National effort to help pregnant women protect themselves, their infants by stopping smoking

October 15, 2000

CHAPEL HILL - The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation of Princeton, N.J., has awarded $1.2 million to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to combat one of the most stubborn problems affecting the health of mothers and their unborn children - how to quit smoking during pregnancy.

The money will fund a new program at UNC-CH's Cecil G. Sheps Center for Health Services Research known as the Smoke-Free Families National Dissemination Office.

"In 1993, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation started the Smoke-Free Families: Innovations to Stop Smoking During and Beyond Pregnancy project at the University of Alabama at Birmingham," said principal investigator Dr. Cathy L. Melvin. "Its purpose was to identify, through a series of clinical studies, the most effective way to help pregnant smokers quit using tobacco during pregnancy and after their babies were born."

Melvin directs the Child Health Services Program at the Sheps Center and the new Smoke-Free Families office.

"Now the National Dissemination Office will translate previous findings into practice," she said. "We will disseminate information on current best practices in treating tobacco use in pregnancy, synthesize results of future trials and conduct research on how to integrate the most successful ways of getting women to stop smoking into clinical settings such as clinics and doctors' offices. Our job is to make sure that every pregnant woman is asked about her use of tobacco and, if she is a smoker, to assure that she receives the best possible evidence-based intervention."

A steering committee of U.S. research and service organizations will help Melvin and her colleagues plan and carry out future collaborative work, she said.

"We are excited about this opportunity to affect what has been one of the most intractable maternal and child health problems of our time, low birth weight," Melvin said. "We think we have an opportunity to improve women's long-term health if they quit during pregnancy and stay quit and to help infants at the same time. The office also brings a lot of resources to the university."

"We are very fortunate to have this project in the Sheps Center," said Dr. Gordon H. DeFriese, director of the center. "It gives us an opportunity to contribute to this important set of issues. But, more importantly, we have been able to gain Dr. Cathy Melvin, one of the nation's leading maternal and child health researchers. She could have chosen any university in the country as the site for this important project. She chose the Sheps Center at UNC-Chapel Hill."

One of the largest efforts will be to increase the number of health-care providers such as doctors who counsel pregnant women about smoking and help them to quit through a five-step program proven to be effective. Training health-care providers to promote quitting tobacco use will be a major emphasis. Full use of the program should increase cessation rates by between 30 percent and 70 percent, research suggests.

"We will ask pregnant women about their use of tobacco and if they say that they've quit, we'll say 'great,' stress the importance of the decision for them and their babies and strongly encourage them to not begin smoking again," Melvin said. "If they smoke, we'll advise them of the risks of continued smoking and the benefits of quitting."

If smokers are willing to try to quit, doctors, nurses and others will show them the most effective ways of being successful, in part by arranging strong social support if possible from family members, friends and co-workers and providing written self-help materials. Women trying to quit will also be contacted periodically to offer further encouragement and support, even if they have not yet succeeded.
Among national groups supporting the new office at UNC-CH are the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, the American Association of Health Plans, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the Health Resources and Services Administration, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Association of Maternal and Child Health Programs.

Note: Melvin can be reached at (919) 843-7663.

Sheps Center Contact: Carolyn Busse, 966-3847
News Contact: David Williamson, 962-8596

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Related Smoking Articles from Brightsurf:

Smoking rates falling in adults, but stroke survivors' smoking rates remain steady
While the rate of Americans who smoke tobacco has fallen steadily over the last two decades, the rate of stroke survivors who smoke has not changed significantly.

What is your risk from smoking? Your network knows!
A new study from researchers at Penn's Annenberg School for Communication found that most people, smokers and non-smokers alike, were nowhere near accurate in their answers to questions about smoking's health effects.

Want to quit smoking? Partner up
Kicking the habit works best in pairs. That's the main message of a study presented today at EuroPrevent 2019, a scientific congress of the European Society of Cardiology (ESC).

Smoking and mortality in Asia
In this analysis of data from 20 studies conducted in China, Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Taiwan and India with more than 1 million participants, deaths associated with smoking continued to increase among men in Asia grouped by the years in which they were born.

Predictors of successfully quitting smoking among smokers registered at the quit smoking clinic at a public hospital in northeastern Malaysia
In the current issue of Family Medicine and Community Health, Nur Izzati Mohammad et al. consider how cigarette smoking is one of the risk factors leading to noncommunicable diseases such as cardiovascular and respiratory system diseases and cancer.

Restaurant and bar smoking bans do reduce smoking, especially among the highly educated
Smoking risk drops significantly in college graduates when they live near areas that have completely banned smoking in bars and restaurants, according to a new study in the American Journal of Epidemiology.

How the UK smoking ban increased wellbeing
Married women with children reported the largest increase in well-being following the smoking bans in the UK in 2006 and 2007 but there was no comparable increase for married men with children.

Smoking study personalizes treatment
A simple blood test is allowing Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC) researchers to determine which patients should be prescribed varenicline (Chantix) to stop smoking and which patients could do just as well, and avoid side effects, by using a nicotine patch.

A biophysical smoking gun
While much about Alzheimer's disease remains a mystery, scientists do know that part of the disease's progression involves a normal protein called tau, aggregating to form ropelike inclusions within brain cells that eventually strangle the neurons.

A case where smoking helped
A mutation in the hemoglobin of a young woman in Germany was found to cause her mild anemia.

Read More: Smoking News and Smoking Current Events is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to