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Health programs lead to fewer pregnant women smoking, CDC says

ATLANTA (AP) — The smoking rate among pregnant women in the United States has dropped by more than one-third since 1990, the government said Thursday.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention credited health campaigns designed to discourage expectant mothers from lighting up.

The smoking rate among pregnant women fell between 1990 and 2002 from 18.4 percent to 11.4 percent, the CDC said.

"The strong message that's been given to the American women over this time period has proven effective in the numbers that we see, and that's great news," said T.J. Mathews, a CDC demographer.

The American Lung Association attributed the decline to states' anti-smoking efforts, including higher tobacco taxes and bans on smoking in public places.

The health consequences of smoking while pregnant cost the nation about $366 million a year to treat, the CDC said.

In pregnant women, smoking can cause premature rupture of the membranes or detachment of the placenta. In babies, it can lead to premature birth, lower birthweight and death, according to the CDC.

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