The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)has stated after a new study that more infant lives could be saved if more women stopped smoking before becoming pregnant.
Despite a decline over the past decade in the number of women who smoke during pregnancy, smoking is still a major cause of newborn deaths, early births and babies born with low birth weight.
"We know about half of women quit when they find out that they are pregnant, but a lot of women are still smoking during pregnancy," said Patricia Dietz, lead study author.
Dietz and co-investigators examined data from the US Linked Birth/Infant Death Data Set, which included all 3.3 million births of single babies that occurred in the United States (with the exception of California) during 2002. About 11.5 percent of babies, or 386,000, had mothers who smoked during pregnancy.
Researchers determined that prenatal smoking caused 5 percent to 8 percent of premature births and 13 percent to 19 percent of cases of low birth weight in babies carried to full term.
Of infants who died, 5 percent to 7 percent of preterm-related deaths and 23 percent to 34 percent of deaths caused by sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) might have been preventable if the mother had not smoked before pregnancy.
The study appears online and in the July issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.