To the editor of THE EAGLE:
In Berkshire County, an alarming number of mothers smoke while they’re pregnant. According to recent data, 34 percent of North Adams pregnancies and 25 percent of Pittsfield pregnancies involved smoking.
According to the recent U.S. Surgeon General’s report, smoking during pregnancy can cause a variety of complications and birth defects. In particular, mothers who smoke during pregnancy are more likely to deliver babies early. Pre-term delivery is a leading cause of death, disability and disease among newborns.
Many women quit smoking when they become pregnant and we know that personal stories help motivate people to quit. So, it’s encouraging that the CDC recently began its "Tips from Former Smokers" media campaign featuring real people and real stories.
One ad in the campaign features Amanda, who smoked during pregnancy and gave birth two months early to a baby girl who weighed three pounds and had to spend weeks in an incubator. Amanda shares her heartbreaking story to inspire pregnant smokers to quit, avoiding the fate that befell her baby.
Every baby deserves a healthy start. Makesmoking history.org is a great place to learn new information on how to quit and find out about all the resources available to help. For anyone ready to quit, the Massachusetts Smokers’ Helpline at 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669) provides confidential telephone information, referral and counseling at no charge.
The writer is director of Public Health Initiatives Berkshire Tobacco-Free Community Partnership Berkshire AHEC (Area Health Education Center).