Reducing the infant mortality rate and the number of women who smoke while pregnant is a top priority in Indiana. One key strategy is promoting tobacco-free pregnancies. Almost 17 percent of pregnant women smoke and 30 percent of Medicaid members smoke during pregnancy in Indiana.
For any woman thinking of becoming pregnant (or future fathers and grandparents), quitting tobacco before starting a family is critical. Among the health risks linked to smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke during pregnancy are respiratory disorders in childhood, stillbirths, low birth-weight babies, and behavioral and learning problems. The average cost of caring for a premature or low birth-weight baby is $50,000. Parental smoking after birth also makes asthma and ear infections worse.
Indiana must do more to encourage and support tobacco free families, including creating more smoke-free environments, charging higher prices for tobacco products and increasing funding for tobacco prevention programs that include the Indiana Tobacco Quitline, 1-800-QUIT-NOW. The Quitline is free to anyone interested in quitting, with expanded services for pregnant women. We can all encourage a mom (or future mom) to call for help because quitting smoking is the most important thing she can do for her health and the health of her baby.
Locally, more information about tobacco-free families and pregnancies will be available at Minority Health Coalition of Elkhart County’s Community Baby Shower on Saturday, June 7, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Tolson Community & Youth Center in Elkhart.
Coordinator, Tobacco Control of Elkhart County
Elkhart County Health Department