KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- We've known for decades that smoking while pregnant can hurt your baby. For some reason, women in Tennessee continue to do it, and, at an alarming rate. Quitting smoking can reduce a woman's risk of premature birth. In Tennessee, more women are lighting up when they're expecting.
Carrie Chadwick stands by her premature newborn. Little Lincoln was born 4 weeks early and because of that has bowel issues.
Carrie Chadwick says, "It's kind of overwhelming."
Lincoln is Carrie's second premature baby. Her first one was born in 2006, so she knows how hard this road can be. Chadwick says, "I know he's going to have problems and I'm ready to face them."
Carrie joins 15 million other women in America who've had pre-mature babies. The March of Dimes Premature Birth Report Card shows Tennessee gets a -C when it comes to early births.
One of the main contributors, the number of pregnant women who smoke rose 2 percent. Dr. Mark Gaylord says, "We're mired in lower 5 percent of health in women, so as we improve our mother's health, we'll improve pre-mature rate.'
The report card shows some good news. A decrease in prematurity since 2011 down 2.5 percent, and a decrease in unisured women and late preterm births. Executive Director of the East Tennessee chapter of March of Dimes Susie Racek says, "We always want an A, but it's unlikely we'll get to that, because only 6 states in nation received an A."
Dr. Gaylord says, "The best thing we can do as moms is to be healthy when they enter pregnancy."
So what's the answer to get women to stop smoking while pregnant?
The March of Dimes is asking policy makers to take on initiatives that prevent tobacco use and help women quit smoking.