10% of young women still smoke after becoming pregnant


One of out every 10 women aged 24 or younger continues to smoke after becoming pregnant, an Environment Ministry survey said Sunday.

The nationwide survey, conducted on some 33,000 pregnant women and their partners from 2011 to 2012, also said 63 percent of their partners smoke.

The findings are stoking concerns about the proliferation of tobacco-related health defects in babies, including low birth weight.

“It is cause for concern, based on the results, that babies’ health may be damaged by secondhand smoking after birth, too,” said Zentaro Yamagata, a University of Yamanashi professor involved in the study. “Pregnant women and those close to them need to refrain from smoking.”

It was the first large-scale study on smoking rates among couples preparing for childbirth, the ministry said.

Overall, 5 percent of pregnant women and 45 percent of their partners smoked during the early stages of pregnancy, the survey said.

The smoking rates, however, declined as ages increased, with 4 percent of women 40 or older, and 37 percent of their partners, continuing to smoke during pregnancy.

  • ume

    While I would never want to appear as coming across as pro-smoking while pregnant, this study (or at the least this article) is either lacking information, or heavily flawed.

    Firstly – Were these women in anyway divided according to how heavily they smoked? A pregnant woman having one cigarette a day, or one pack a day (while both intrinsically wrong) are very different, and could have very different outcomes on a developing fetus. It has been medically proven that low birth weight is unaffected by very light smokers, as with those women who quit before the 5 month mark.

    Secondly – “Early Pregnancy” could mean any thing up until 4 months. Are we including, in these statistics, woman who were smokers, and found out at 6-8 weeks that they were pregnant, and as a result stopped smoking? Or women who have made absolutely no effort or attempt to stop at all.

    The other thing which was not mentioned in this article was about the older mothers, aged 40 or over. At that age, one has to be very careful, as often the fetuses of mothers who smoke are more prone to miscarriage or birth defects than those of younger woman. I wonder if this information was also filtered in? I assume the study was only referring to live births, and comparing a 40 year old and a 20 year old in studies like these are like comparing apples and oranges. They both have very different circumstances which need to be taken into consideration.

    As for the men – were these men smoking around their wives/girlfriends, or socially, or at work? It seems too vague to answer “yes” or “no” to this. “Yes, I chain smoked constantly around my wife, and we both stay home all day and don’t work” is a very different answer to “I have a couple of cigarettes a day at work or while drinking with friends, and If I smoke at home I go out on the veranda to do it.”

    While I am currently a non-smoker, I must admit that I myself have been in the situation of being a smoker, finding myself pregnant, and then quitting, however according to the survey above, I would have found myself in the “naughty” 5% of smokers. It feels unfair to lump me together with someone puffing away on a pack a day of red label in their ninth month.