The persistence of low birth weight babies born to mothers who smoke continues to be a source of social concern. Recent research determined that a pregnant woman who smokes is 1.5 times more likely to deliver a low birth weight baby than a nonsmoker (Ventura et al. 2003). Low birth weight affects one in 13 babies each year in the United States and is a factor in 65% of infant deaths (March of Dimes, 2003). According to the March of Dimes Foundation, babies born at a low birth weight (2500 grams or less) are at a greater risk for mental retardation, cerebral palsy, impairments in lung function, sight and hearing. These babies may also experience problems regulating body temperature due to the small percentage of body fat related to the low birth weight. This can lead to growth retardation and problems with breathing mechanisms. Research has shown many times that there is a direct link with smoking and low birth weight. Therefore, if efforts are focused on smoking cessation, the effects of low birth weight can be reduced. There is currently research focused on what methods are effective and what populations would be affected. Perhaps smoking it is not only a social concern, but a matter of social acceptance. Recent research states that 67% of the women interviewed for a study in Perth reported that they had smoked regularly during their pregnancies (Gilcrist et al 2004). Conversely, only 4.2% of women in China smoke regularly (World Health Organization, 2000). If smoking is considered socially acceptable in certain areas, do the rates of low birth weight babies reflect this? The purpose of this study is to examine the epidemiological relationship between smoking and low birth weight in various countries to discover trends possibly related to culture.
International Journal of Global Health and Health Disparities
©2007 International Journal of Global Health and Health Disparities
"The Effects of Smoking on Low Birth Weight Babies: A Cultural Influence?,"
International Journal of Global Health and Health Disparities, 5(1), 82-89.
Available at: https://scholarworks.uni.edu/ijghhd/vol5/iss1/7