The latest statistics show that smoking among pregnant women in Spokane County continues to be nearly twice as high as the state average. A conference is planned for June to address this public health problem.

According to the Washington State Department of Health, 18.2 percent of women in Spokane County smoke cigarettes during their pregnancy. That is almost twice as high as the state average. Pregnant women on Medicaid in Spokane County smoke at an even higher level of 31.7 percent. By comparison in Washington, 15.3 percent of the adult population currently smokes, which is the 6th lowest in the nation.

Smoking during pregnancy increases the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and chronic respiratory illnesses in babies. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), babies born to women who smoke during pregnancy have about 30% higher chance of being born prematurely and are more likely to be born with low birth weight, which increases the risk of illness in these babies and increases the risk of medical complications during pregnancy including death.

Women who quit smoking during pregnancy often begin smoking again after their baby is born. The Washington State Department of Health reports that more than 40 percent of women who quit smoking during pregnancy start again after giving birth.

The Spokane Regional Health District is sponsoring a conference on June 2nd for medical professionals. Those who serve pregnant women in any field are encouraged to attend. The conference is titled, Improving Perinatal & Pediatric Health: Effects of Smoking & Drug Use in Our Community. Registration information is available online at /media/documents/ConferenceRegistration-EffectsofSmokingDrugUse.pdf. The deadline to register is May 19th.

Anyone interested in quitting tobacco or interested in getting information about quitting, can contact the Washington State Quit Line for FREE help at 1-800-QUIT NOW or