According to recently released data
from the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR), Bureau
for Public Health, smoking rates among pregnant women are steadily declining.
Provisional numbers from DHHR’s Health Statistics Center indicate the rate of smoking
during pregnancy in West Virginia has dropped from 28.2 percent in 2014 to 24.2
percent in 2016.
“We are encouraged to see the
downward trend in smoking rates during pregnancy,” said Dr. Rahul Gupta,
Commissioner and State Health Officer for the West Virginia Bureau for Public
Health. “We believe the steady decline is the result of a comprehensive
approach including the work of our community partners and programs such as Home
Visitation and RAZE, West Virginia’s highly successful youth anti-smoking
The decreases in smoking rates during pregnancy are similar to decreases in
youth smoking rates. Data from the 2015 Youth Tobacco Survey indicate the
percentage of West Virginia high school students that smoke has decreased to
16.2 percent from 38.5 percent in 2000.
Smoking during pregnancy is a key
public health indicator because it contributes to premature birth, certain
birth defects and infant death. Families can significantly decrease
health risks to their babies by not smoking and not allowing others to smoke
“There is still a significant amount
of work to do,” said Gupta. “West Virginia remains well above the United
States rate of 8.4 percent for smoking during pregnancy (2014), but it is
vitally important to recognize the rate reduction which mirrors the State’s
trend in youth smoking rates.”
As a result of West Virginia’s
efforts to decrease smoking, more young women have never smoked, making them
more likely to have smoke-free pregnancies. According to Gupta, public
health programs and partners have reinforced these messages during well-woman
visits, home visits and health care provider training.
Work to further improve the smoking
rate during pregnancy is being enhanced by the recent launch of the West
Virginia Management of Maternal Smoking (MOMS) Initiative, which includes
representatives from DHHR programs, the West Virginia Perinatal Partnership,
U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Substance Abuse and Mental
Health Services Administration, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services,
and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.