The Indiana State Department of Health issued $900,000 grant to the public health researchers at Indiana University to study the cost benefit of new, innovative strategies to reduce smoking during pregnancy.
Infant mortality rate is the sixth worst in the United States. Smoking during pregnancy is a major contributor to infant mortality rate. Indiana has one of the highest rates of smoking during pregnancy (16% compared to 13% nationally). Thus, lowering infant mortality rate is one of the top three initiatives of the Indiana State Department of Health.
"The State Health Department deserves a lot of credit for tackling this important public health issue for Indiana by investing in research to identify effective interventions that will save most importantly lives but also scarce resources," said Jon Macy, lead researcher for the project and assistant professor at the IU School of Public Health-Bloomington.
Pregnant women will be enrolled in the study at prenatal clinics in central and south-central Indiana. They will be followed throughout their pregnancy and for up to six months after delivery to assess the effect of the intervention on smoking and health outcomes, said Macy.
Women who smoke during pregnancy are twice likely to deliver a low-birth-weight baby. Babies born to mothers who smoked during pregnancy have twice the risk of sudden infant death syndrome.
The study will involve different levels of financial incentives. The incentives would be much cheaper than the medical expenses associated with a pre-term, low-birth-weight baby. It is difficult for anyone to quit smoking. But pregnant women have additional challenges.
"One consideration unique to pregnant women is whether the physician thinks it's OK to use nicotine replacement therapy. Quitting without nicotine replacement is more difficult. The other unique consideration would be remaining abstinent from smoking after the baby is born. Many women successfully quit during the pregnancy but then relapse soon after the birth of their child. We will be following the women for up to six months after delivery to see if our intervention has any lasting effect."