State health officials encouraging women to quit smoking - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

State health officials encouraging women to quit smoking

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MADISON (WKOW) -- State health officials are encouraging pregnant women, new moms, and others with new babies to take part in state programs to quit smoking for their baby's sake.

This push by the Wisconsin Department of Health Services is part of National Infant Mortality Month. According to DHS, the number of women in Wisconsin who smoke during pregnancy is at 13 percent. That's compared to the national average of nine percent.

Smoking while pregnant can lead to a host of complications, such as miscarriage, stillbirth, premature birth, low birth-weight, birth defects and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), according to DHS.

"Sadly, the addiction is so powerful and the stress on some women is so high, it can override even the strong desire pregnant women have to protect themselves and their babies," Karen McKeown, Wisconsin Division of Public Health administrator, said. "Fortunately, there are programs available to help women quit smoking while pregnant and stay smoke-free once the baby is born."

Expectant mothers can get quit-smoking counseling from the Wisconsin's First Breath Program. And expecting mothers, who are Badger Care Plus members, can take part in the Striving to Quit study. The study offers two additional benefits the First Breath Program does not. Participants in the study may be eligible for cash incentives for quitting smoking, plus up to a year of post-partum quit support.

"Unfortunately, a third of women who quit smoking while pregnant start up again shortly after giving birth," Sue Ann Thompson, director of the Wisconsin Women's Health Foundation, said. "We are very excited to offer postpartum support while we study what works to help new moms stay smoke-free."

Those around babies should also take precautions. Household smoke, often referred to as secondhand smoke, is also harmful to babies, according to DHS.

"Secondhand smoke can lead to ear infections, asthma, and increase the risk of SIDS," McKeown said. "Fathers, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and other smokers with a pregnant woman or a newborn in their life should show support for mom and baby and get their own quit-smoking assistance by calling the Wisconsin Tobacco Quit Line at 1-800-QUIT NOW."

For more information on First Breath, visit the program's website. For more information on the Striving to Quit study, visit the study's website. For additional resources on smoking and tobacco use, visit DHS' website.

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