pregnant women

Women who smoke while they're pregnant are more likely to have health problems, and their babies are at risk, too. But attempts to get women to stop smoking while pregnant usually fail.

When pregnant women in Scotland got paid to quit, 23 percent of them managed to stop smoking, compared with 9 percent who quit after they got counseling, support calls and free nicotine replacement therapy, according to a study published Tuesday in The BMJ.

Discrimination against female workers who might get pregnant in the future, or have been pregnant in the past, is against the law, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission said this week. For the first time in 30 years, the agency has updated its rules against pregnancy discrimination.

The agency clarified several policies, including one that spells out when businesses may have to provide pregnant workers light duty and another that bans employers from forcing a pregnant worker to take leave even in cases when she's able to continue on the job.

Doctors regularly counsel expectant mothers about the risks associated with smoking, drinking and poor nutrition during pregnancy.

But many obstetricians are reluctant to speak with them about the potential dangers posed by toxic substances in the environment — things like heavy metals, solvents and pesticides.

“We have to err on the side of life and give that baby a voice.”

That’s the philosophy behind a bill to require keeping a pregnant woman on life support until her child can be born. HB 1274 is headed to conference committee after its author, New Orleans Representative Austin Badon, urged the full House Thursday to reject an amendment added by the Senate earlier this week.

The American Civil Liberties Union has decided to go directly to the source of its unhappiness with the way women are treated in Catholic hospitals. It's suing the nation's Catholic bishops.