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Study: Fewer Women Smoke While Pregnant Teen Birth Rates Also Decline, According To Government Report

A new government study shows a continued decline in the number of teenage births and women who smoke during pregnancy.

Smoking during pregnancy in the United States dropped to 14 percent in 1995, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Studies show that exposure to tobacco in the womb stunts fetal growth so babies are twice as likely to be born small as the infants of nonsmokers. After birth, these babies also are more likely to fall victim to sudden infant death syndrome or have lung trouble, among other health problems.

The CDC report also found teen birth rates dropped 4 percent from 1994 to 1995. The decline among teens ages 15-17 was slightly higher than those 18-19. The drop was reported across racial groups but the largest decline was noted among black teenagers, according to the CDC report.

The report to be released today also found:

The number of women who received prenatal care within the first trimester increased to a record high of 81.3 percent in 1995. That was up from 75 percent in 1989.

The number of triplet and other higher-order multiple births continued to increase, jumping 8 percent from 1994 to 1995. The number of twin births declined slightly, but the overall multiple birth ratio rose to 26.1 per 1,000 births..

The low-birth-weight rate was 7.3 percent for 1995. That was the same level as in 1994, the highest since 1976.

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