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Smoking While Pregnant Not Only Threatens Babies' Lives, It Threatens Women's Too

YPSILANTI (WWJ) -- In 2015, about 10 percent of pregnant women in Washtenaw County smoked while they were pregnant, increasing the risk of potentially life-threatening complications for both themselves and their babies.

Health officials in Washtenaw County are using the Mother's Day weekend to help educate expectant mothers about the risks of smoking before and during their pregnancy.

Babies born to women who smoke while pregnant are at higher risk of being born early, having a low birth weight and are at risk for sudden infant death syndrome, or SIDS. These babies are also more likely to show signs of distress and excitability.

Smoking can cause problems for women who have yet to become mothers as well. According to the Centers for Disease Control, smoking can cause fertility problems in women and can even damage sperm and cause other problems, like erectile dysfunction, in men.

Smoking won't only pose a threat to the health of a woman's baby, but to her while she is giving birth also. Smoking doubles the risk of abnormal bleeding during pregnancy and delivery, the CDC says.

People are listening to the facts about the dangers of tobacco though. The smoking rate in the United States has fallen since the 1960s (42.4 percent) all the way down to 19 percent, according to the CDC.

However, some people think just one cigarette here and there isn't going to negatively affect their health. According to a study conducted by the University of Texas at Austin, the amount of young women identifying as "light smokers," people who say they smoke fewer than five cigarettes a day, is on the rise.

Because light smokers don't see themselves as "smokers" they may be less inclined to quit, while the health risks remain.

The Washtenaw County Public Health Department is encouraging pregnant women to take advantage of the free Michigan Tobacco QuitLine. To learn more call the QuitLine at 1-800-QUIT-NOW.

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