Smoking during pregnancy remains a risk to the health of Arizona infants. The Health Status and Vital Statistics Report for 2013 found that 4.4% of Arizona moms smoked during their pregnancy. Smoking during pregnancy is associated with a significantly increased risk for many birth defects. A new article found that smoking during pregnancy is associated with statistically significant increases in cardiovascular defects, limb reduction, and cleft palate. Our Arizona Birth Defects Monitoring Program has found similar results.
Reduction of smoking rates during pregnancy presents an opportunity to reduce the number of babies born with these conditions. We have a number of programs to help. The Arizona Health Start Program Home Visiting Program for pregnant and parenting women, children and families, has included tobacco use as a risk factor for enrollment in the program for over 10 years. Recent data indicate that about 8% of women enroll in Health Start with an identified risk factor for tobacco use. Of those enrollments, 57% were pregnant moms. In fact, all of our home visiting programs screen for tobacco use and offer resources in the community.
All Home Visitors have been trained to ask 6 additional questions of all prenatal clients regarding tobacco use including using smokeless tobacco products and e-cigarettes in the past 30 days. They also ask if anyone in the household smokes or uses tobacco products and where they smoke. If a Health Start client or family member indicates tobacco use, the Home Visitor advises the client about the health effects and the benefits of quitting. The Home Visitor then provides an active referral to the Arizona Smokers Helpline/ASHLine.
All Health Start Home Visitors now receive annual training on the dangers of tobacco use among women during pregnancy, its effects on women and babies, as well as basic tobacco screening and intervention skills including how to make referrals to the ASHLine.