Program gives Grand County’s expectant mothers reasons to quit smoking | SkyHiNews.com

Program gives Grand County’s expectant mothers reasons to quit smoking

Stephanie Miller
Sky-Hi Daily News

Mothers-to-be in Grand County are finding more incentives to quit smoking, thanks to a program that will be funded through the Rocky Mountain Health Plans (RMHP) foundation next year.

The program, dubbed “Baby and Me, Tobacco Free,” is an incentive-based smoking cessation program that will be introduced in the spring of 2008 to 18 Colorado counties, including Grand. The RMHP foundation awarded nearly $500,000 to start the evidence-based program at the county level, which will expand to become statewide over the next three years.

June Matson, executive director for Pregnancy Resource Connection in Granby, said she was excited about the new program, which would enhance the lessons pregnant women already receive at her clinic. Matson estimated that out of her client base, eight out of every 10 mothers-to-be smoke.

“A lot of them quit for the pregnancy, but then they tend to go back. They’ll come in later with their babies and we can smell smoke,” Matson said. “During their pregnancy, they’re motivated ” which is great. But the second-hand smoke is so dangerous to the little ones as well.”

Matson also pointed out that the average birth weight in Grand County is already low due to high altitude. Smoking only aggravates that, she said.

The American Lung Association has determined that 14 percent of preterm delivers n the U.S. are caused by smoking, along with other serious health conditions.

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Through the new program, women can receive cessation counseling and carbon monoxide testing at their county health department or other agency. Pregnancy Resource Connection doesn’t offer testing, so the staff has to rely on the mother’s word that she has quit smoking. With a test, staff members would know for sure, Matson pointed out.

“That would help for accountability,” she added.

After giving birth, the mothers would return to monthly carbon monoxide monitoring, and for every month she remains tobacco-free, she receives a $25 voucher for diapers.

The grant secured by Rocky Mountain Health Plans Foundation, set up through Rocky Mountain Health Plans, will fund training and compensation for the “Baby and Me, Tobacco Free” program for county program coordinators, the purchase of CO monitors, and marketing materials. The program will be publicized in each county as it becomes available.

The Pregnancy Resource Center currently offers lessons on quitting smoking and second-hand smoke. It also offers incentives such as gift certificates for women from their first trimester to two years of age.

If the clinic could provide a referral location for the new program along with its current program, “that would be great,” Matson said.

“It would give us the ability to have more of an incentive for (pregnant mothers), and more accountability,” she added. “Anything we can do to help women deliver healthy babies and have healthy pregnancies ” we want to be a part of that.”

More information on risks of smoking during pregnancy

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that smoking during pregnancy increases the risk for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and low birth weight. The CDC also estimates 150,000 to 300,000 cases of lower respiratory infection in infants and children each year are attributable to environmental tobacco smoke, primarily from a smoking mother.

According to a press release by the Rocky Mountain Health Plans Foundation, “Baby and Me, Tobacco Free,” is a program that had been used in New York for several years. Two years of data show that 87 percent of pregnant women in the program in Chautauqua County, N.Y., quit smoking and remained tobacco-free three months after giving birth, with 85 percent still smoke-free after nine months.

For more information, visit http://www.ColoradoHealth.org.

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