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Excerpts from Pregnant smokers big problem
By Ed Vogel, Las Vegas Journal-Review
CARSON CITY -- More than 25 percent of pregnant Nevadans continue to smoke, though they realize the hazard it presents to their unborn children, the state's top health officer said Tuesday.
While 14 percent of women stated on birth records in 1998 that they smoked during their pregnancies, Dr. Mary Guinan estimated the true number was 25 percent to 28 percent.
"I can tell you most mothers know smoking is bad during a pregnancy, but they still smoke," Guinan told the Task Force for the Fund for a Healthy Nevada. "These women also tend to abuse alcohol and marijuana. Smoking is an indication of a risk-taking person."
Guinan said not enough smoking cessation programs are available, and one that works must be found for pregnant women.
The task force was set up by the state Legislature last year to recommend ways to distribute some of the $48 million a year that Nevada will receive from a national settlement with the tobacco industry. The money is to compensate states for the costs they incur in paying the health care costs of indigent smokers.
Smoking by their mothers is the primary cause for low birth-weight babies, or those who weigh less than 5.5 pounds. About 7.4 percent of Nevada's newborns fall into this category, a percentage that has increased in the last decade. Fifty percent of these children suffer physical and mental disorders during their lives, according to Guinan.
In a presentation replete with statistics, Guinan said Nevada is considered one of the most unhealthy states because of high smoking rates. Seventeen percent of high school students are regular smokers, according to a survey conducted last year by the Department of Education.
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