The Facts - Smoking and Low Birth Weight
- In North Carolina, during 2001, 20% of all infant deaths were associated with premature birth and low birth weight.
- In North Carolina, 1999, the percentage of babies born at low birth weight was double for mothers who smoked during pregnancy compared to mothers who did not smoke.
- It is estimated that there would be an 11% reduction in the incidence of low birth weight if smoking during pregnancy were eliminated.
- Low birth weight can lead to higher use of neonatal intensive care units at delivery, which leads to higher health care costs.
- How Does Cigarette Smoking Cause Low Birth Weight? Nicotine causes blood vessels to constrict, so less blood (with oxygen and nutrients) Flows through the placenta to the baby, causing growth restriction and low birth weight. Nicotine reaches the baby through the placenta and is concentrated in fetal blood at levels 15% greater than those of the mother.
Immediately after the mother smokes a cigarette, the baby's heart rate increases. This causes stress and strain on the unborn baby.
The 5 A's to Counseling Women Who Smoke
- Ask about smoking status
- Document status
A: Advise (Educate)
- Provide clear advice to quit
- Discuss health benefits of quitting
- Discuss health risks of smoking
- Assess the willingness to quit smoking
- Provide Motivational Intervention
- Provide Educational and Self-help materials
- Set a quit date and develop quit plan
- Discuss triggers and coping strategies
- Provide support and help identify social support network
- Contact on or near quit date
- Follow-up next visit, by phone, by letter
- Encourage cessation for women who continue to smoke
For more information, contact:
Joy Goens, CHES
Youth Tobacco Prevention Coordinator
Mecklenburg County Health Department
249 Billingsley Rd.
Charlotte, NC 28211