CHICAGO -- More than 15 percent of low-income women in U.S. Midwest state of Illinois may be lighting up anyway, a study posted on the website of the University of Illinois (UI) on Wednesday suggests.
The researchers examined the prevalence of tobacco use among 729 patients at two public health clinics, one urban and one rural.
They found the rate of pregnant smokers at the Illinois public health clinics was more than double that reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in a recent study, which estimated that 7.2 percent of women in the United States who gave birth in 2016 smoked in pregnancy.
The researchers hold that the percentage of tobacco users in its study population may be even greater than the data indicated. Given the stigma associated with smoking, especially during pregnancy, some patients may have been reluctant to disclose to their clinicians that they smoked.
About 85 percent of the women in the study reported that they were smokers before they became pregnant. And many of those who continued to smoke after becoming pregnant lived with domestic partners or family members who used tobacco.
All of the women were enrolled in both a depression registry and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC).
The study also found that expectant women were more likely to smoke if they were white, 25 or older, overweight or obese and had 12 years of education or less.
The study has been published in Community Mental Health Journal.