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Letter: Important for expectant mothers to quit smoking

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Note: The statements, views, and opinions contained in this letter to the editor are those of the author and are not endorsed by, nor do they necessarily reflect, the opinions of The Republic.

From: Stephanie Womack


The most important thing you can do for your baby is to quit smoking.

Smoking causes cancer, heart disease and other major health problems. Women who smoke may find it harder to get pregnant, and women who smoke during pregnancy are more likely to have a miscarriage, premature birth, low birth weight, infant death and other birth defects. Tobacco smoke contains known cancer-causing chemicals, which are absorbed into the placenta — the source of the baby’s food and oxygen during pregnancy.

Smoking while pregnant is simply bad for the mother and the baby; it increases the likelihood the baby will be born sick and/or needing a longer stay in the hospital. Also, smoking after the baby is born increases the risk of sudden infant death syndrome.

Reducing Indiana’s infant mortality rate and the number of women who smoke while pregnant is a top priority for the Indiana State Department of Health. Almost 17 percent of pregnant women smoke, and 30 percent of Medicaid members in Indiana smoke during pregnancy.

Tackling the infant mortality rate requires partnerships and collaboration with organizations statewide. Reducing infant mortality and the number of women who smoke while pregnant is a huge challenge, but Indiana is providing the resources to eliminate barriers for people to successfully quit.

Indiana is one of seven states that cover all seven FDA-approved tobacco cessation medications and individual and group cessation counseling for all Medicaid enrollees. The Indiana Tobacco Quitline (800-QUIT-NOW) is free to anyone interested in quitting, with expanded services for pregnant women.

Reach Healthy Communities will be available to provide cessation options for new and expecting moms struggling with tobacco use at Bluebelle’s Community Baby Shower for Hoosier Healthwise members. We will also be talking to families about breast-feeding support. Sponsored by MDwise, Pregnancy Care Centers of South Central Indiana and Mothering Essentials, the free event will be from 10 a.m. to noon Aug. 23 at First Presbyterian Church.

For more information about tobacco cessation, contact Stephanie Womack at 812-375-3194 or For more information about Bluebelle’s Baby Shower, contact Kelly Lowry at 812-373-6904 or

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