The Crusader Newspaper Group

New program to help pregnant women quit smoking

Mental Health America of Lake County (MHALC), a non-profit prevention and early intervention agency, is trained and certified to offer Baby & Me – Tobacco Free Program, a program aimed at helping pregnant women quit smoking.

“According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), we must encourage pregnant smoking women to consider a quit attempt,” Renae Vania Tomczak, MHALC President & CEO said. “Baby & Me Tobacco Free Program is research-based and proven to help pregnant women quit smoking and maintain smoking cessation throughout the postpartum period and beyond. The greatest gift a woman can give her baby is a tobacco-free pregnancy and a tobacco-free home.”

Laurie Adams, Baby & Me Tobacco Free executive director and program creator, provided technical support and training to MHALC, certifying more than 60 staff members to enroll women into the program and provide the valuable education to help pregnant women quit.

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LAURIE ADAMS INSTRUCTS a group of MHALC professionals during a training session.

“Mental Health America of Lake County is a perfect fit for the program,” Adams said. “They provide services to a large number of prenatal women and they support their quit attempts.”

Pregnant women who enroll in the program receive counseling support and resources to help them quit smoking. Upon successfully quitting and staying quit, enrolled participants are eligible for free diapers, two packs during the prenatal period and one pack per month for up to 12 months following the birth of their baby, if they remain tobacco-free.

“This program employs cessation methods and guidelines set forth by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and its effectiveness has been documented through research,” Adams said. “We are thrilled to be working with Mental Health America of Lake County to help pregnant women in their community.”

Tobacco use during pregnancy is a known cause of birth defects, premature births, underweight babies and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Quitting greatly reduces health risks to both the mother and baby.

“Smoking during pregnancy is a proven risk factor for going into preterm labor and delivering a low birth-weight baby,” said Jeena Siela, Maternal and Child Health Director for March of Dimes Indiana. “Indiana had one of the highest smoking rates during pregnancy in the country in 2015. The percentage of women who smoked during pregnancy in our state averaged 15.1.”

The program, conducted at both MHALC offices, is generously funded by the Indiana State Department of Health and the March of Dimes. Their goal is to enroll at least 50 pregnant smoking women into the program. The program is currently in 18 states, with over 10,000 women enrolled nationwide.

“Currently, no other organization in Lake County is working to reduce this rate through an evidence-based cessation program,” Siela said. “Therefore, we’re extremely happy to be providing funding for the Baby & Me Tobacco Free Program that will be implemented through Mental Health America of Lake County. We look forward to working with this organization to give every baby in Lake County a fighting chance.”

If you would like information about the program, contact Mental Health America of Lake County at (219) 937-7733, ext. 200.

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