Perinatal smoking in communities across Los Angeles County: Recent progress and why it matters

Our latest examination of L.A. County birth records highlights good news: The vast majority of women in L.A. County reported not smoking during pregnancy or in the three months before conception from 2007-2012. And perinatal non-smoking rates improved slightly during this period. Full results, plus interactive maps, can be found here.

Other key findings:

  • All areas of the county saw improvements in perinatal non-smoking, though rates differed by region. While the Antelope Valley had the lowest percentage of births without perinatal smoking during 2007-2012, that region also experienced the greatest gains, e.g., figures in Service Planning Area (SPA) 1 rose from 95.5% to 96.5%.
  • Among racial/ethnic groups countywide, perinatal non-smoking levels were lowest for Japanese, African American, and white mothers, though these three groups showed the largest improvements as well. Only one demographic group had greater gains during this period—those without fathers established on birth records. Specifically, perinatal non-smoking levels for births without paternity established increased from 95.1% to 97.2%.
  • Improvement in perinatal non-smoking rates suggest that public health efforts to reduce smoking among expectant mothers—where smoking could have two-generation consequences—seem to be working.

Why does it matter?

Perinatal smoking not only harms the mother’s health but also increases the risk of infant death, premature birth, low birthweight, and birth defects, among other complications. Though these increases – in percentage terms – are relatively small, they represent thousands of infants and significant progress for maternal and child health in L.A. County.


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