'More than 20% of pregnant white women smoke'

Study shows significant differences in substance use rates among Blacks, Hispanics, and Whites.

May 19, 2012 05:31
2 minute read.
Pregnant women

Pregnant women [illustrative]_311. (photo credit: Reuters)


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A new report shows that 21.8 percent of pregnant White women aged 15 to 44 currently (within the past 30 days) smoked cigarettes. The study conducted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) also showed that cigarette smoking levels among pregnant White women were significantly higher than the levels among pregnant Black women (14.2 percent) and pregnant Hispanic women (6.5 percent) in the same 15 to 44 age range.

In terms of current illicit drug use, however, the report found that the rate among pregnant Black women (7.7 percent) was significantly higher than among pregnant White women (4.4 percent) and pregnant Hispanic women (3.1 percent).

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The rate of current alcohol use among pregnant Black and White women is roughly the same (12.8 percent and 12.2 percent respectively), but their levels were substantially higher than pregnant Hispanic women (7.4 percent)

Overall, pregnant Hispanic women in this age range were less likely to use alcohol and cigarettes than pregnant Black and White women.

“When pregnant women use alcohol, tobacco, or illicit substances they are risking health problems for themselves and poor birth outcomes for their babies,” said SAMHSA Administrator Pamela S. Hyde. “Pregnant women of different races and ethnicities may have diverse patterns of substance abuse. It is essential that we use the findings from this report to develop better ways of getting this key message out to every segment of our community so that no woman or child is endangered by substance use and abuse.”

SAMHSA’s Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) Center for Excellence sponsors a number of state-of-the-art programs for addressing the problem of substance abuse among pregnant women. These programs include:

Project CHOICES—Reaches out to women at risk of having an alcohol-exposed pregnancy before they become pregnant to provide information and help.
Screening and Brief Intervention (SBI) – Helps identify and provide assistance to people in need of treatment. The program uses a simple written assessment of alcohol use and a 10-15 minute intervention with pregnant women who report drinking.
Parent-Child Assistance Program (P-CAP) – The program uses an intensive paraprofessional home visitation model to reduce risk behaviors in women with substance abuse problems over a three-year period.


These programs implement evidence-based interventions and have helped many pregnant women lead healthier lives and improve the outcomes for their children’s health. More information about the FASD Center for Excellence is available at: www.fasdcenter.samhsa.gov/assessmentprevention/fasdprevention.cfm.

The report entitled, Data Spotlight: Substance Use During Pregnancy Varies by Race and Ethnicity, is based on data analyzed from SAMHSA’s 2002-2010 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH). NSDUH is a scientifically conducted annual survey of approximately 67,500 people throughout the country, aged 12 and older. Because of its statistical power, it is the nation’s premier source of statistical information on the scope and nature of many substance abuse and behavioral health issues affecting the nation. The report is available at: http://www.samhsa.gov/data/spotlight/Spot062PregnantRaceEthnicity2012.pdf.

This article was first published at www.newswise.com

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