The Centers for Disease Control found that nearly 35 percent of women between the ages of 18 and 44 in Kentucky smoke. That’s compared to 24 percent in Ohio, and 27 percent in Indiana. State smoking cessation program coordinator Irene Centers says the number of pregnant women who smoke is also high, particularly in eastern Kentucky. New grant money is allowing her to pilot some health care and counseling programs in the region.
“The nine county pilot uses a case management model to help the pregnant women with a multitude of problems, but one of them being smoking cessation,” Centers says.
Centers says Kentucky has a disproportionately large population of pregnant smokers. They’re at risk for premature births, low birth weight babies, and other serious problems. Nationwide, the Centers for Disease Control estimates that neo-natal health care costs connected with maternal smoking top more than $366 million a year. In Kentucky, taxpayers bear much of this cost because of the high percentage of pregnant smokers in the Medicaid program.