If you pass five pregnant white women this week, chances are high that at least one of them has smoked within the past month. Researchers from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services (SAMHSA) reported the huge difference between pregnant white women who reported smoking and pregnant women of other nationalities. More than 20-percent of white women reported smoking within the last 30 days, compared to less than 15-percent of black women and less than 7-percent of Hispanic women. The women in the study ranged from 15 to 44 years of age.

SAMHSA also collected information on illegal drug and alcohol use during pregnancy. Black women were more likely to use illegal drugs while pregnant with about 7.5-percent reporting drug use compared to just 4.5-percent of white women and 3-percent of Hispanic women. When it came to alcohol use, white women and black women reported using alcohol in 12- to 13-percent of cases, but again Hispanic women were on the bottom of the list with only 7.5-percent of pregnant Hispanic women reporting drinking alcohol. Hispanic women were less likely to smoke, drink or use illegal drugs than any other ethnicity.

There is Help Out There for Pregnant Women
SAMHSA does more than collect data. The Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Center, part of SAMHSA, offers a variety of programs for pregnant women, including Project CHOICES, Screening, and Brief Intervention and Parent-Child Assistance Program.

  • Project CHOICES educates and supports women who are at higher risk of alcohol use during pregnancy.
  • Screening and Brief Intervention is designed to find women who need treatment in 15 minutes or less. 
  • Parent-Child Assistance Program is a home visitation program to reduce dangerous behaviors.

Information for the study was collected over an 8-year time span between ’02 and ’10. More than 67,000 people were surveyed for the study. Pregnancy information was not the only bit of information collected. The information was aimed at providing study data for various forms of drug and alcohol abuse and the resulting information will be used for a variety of reports.

Source: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration – National Survey on Drug Use and Health. 10 May 2012.