MACON, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) - More than 670,000 women smoke in the Peach State and many light up while pregnant. 41NBC caught up with Georgia's top doctor to find out the dangers smoking can cause mothers and their unborn babies.
Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald is the Commissioner for the Georgia Department of Health. She says smoking is bad for adults, but it is even worse for kids.
"Smoking during pregnancy is absolutely a leading contributing cause to problems with losing our babies or having unhealthy babies,” Fitzgerald told 41NBC.
Fitzgerald says more than 670,000 women in Georgia smoke. Of that, 12% smoke while pregnant and over the last few years, more than 30 infants died because of tobacco exposure.
“Certainly mothers know it's important to quit smoking, I think, but they may not understand how important it is,” Fitzgerald said.
She says smoking leads to prematurity, smaller babies, and even death. Fitzgerald compared smoking to “putting a pillow over your baby's face because it really cuts down on the oxygen.”
Fitzgerald adds if you smoke, your baby is more at risk of dying from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.
“Even if you have second hand smoke, even if its the father who smokes, there's more than a 20% increase,” she said. “We lose one child every other day in Georgia from SIDS."
She understands it is not easy to quit, but you can get support from friends, family, your doctor, and a quit line.
“That means a line you can call 24/7 whenever you need help and you call regularly for counseling."
The quit line in Georgia is 877-270-STOP. It's a free service that can help Georgians quit smoking and all kinds of tobacco.
Lauria Saylor is a pulmonary health educator at the Coliseum Medical Center. She stopped by 41 Today to talk about other ways you can quit smoking.
She says smokers should set a date, get help, and medicate. Smoking is a three fold addiction: physical, habitual, and social. She added you need to have a personal reason to quit smoking.
Saylor says there are phone applications, such as MyQuit Smoking Coach, which helps people kick the habit.
Other smoking cessation resources include that National Network of Tobacco Cessation Quitline at 1-800-QUIT-NOW, the National Cancer Institute's Smoking Cessation Quitline at 1-877-44U-QUIT, the American Cancer Society, and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.