Agencies work to help pregnant women quit smoking

By Ashley M. Casey

Integrated Community Planning of Oswego County, Inc., is teaming up with agencies across the county to help pregnant women quit smoking.

The campaign is part of the 38th annual Great American Smokeout, sponsored by the American Cancer Society.

Using funds from its Excellus BlueCross BlueShield Community Health Award, ICP is contributing to smoking cessation efforts coordinated by Oswego County Opportunities, the SUNY Oswego Communications Department, the Oswego County Health Department and local health providers.

Helping pregnant women stop smoking has “been a target of ours for a very long time,” said Ellen Holst, senior director for health and nutrition at OCO.

“Any way we can help pregnant women understand how to help themselves is something we want to strive for,” Holst added.

According to the 2010-2013 Oswego County Community Health Assessment, more than 28 percent of pregnant women in Oswego County smoke. Among pregnant women who receive Medicaid, that number jumps to 75 percent.

Local data from WIC reported that 11 percent of breastfeeding mothers and 35 percent of postpartum mothers in the county continue to smoke.

Twenty-one percent of pregnant women in Oswego County have been exposed to secondhand smoke.

The Center for Disease Control outlines several risks of smoking while pregnant, or being exposed to secondhand smoke:

Increased risk of miscarriage

Problems with the placenta

Premature birth and low birth weight

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)

Increased risk of birth defects such as cleft palate

“Efforts to help smokers quit and keep even the youngest kids from starting to smoke will continue to have a major impact on the health of New York State now and in the future,” ICPs Executive Director Christina Wilson said in a press release. “We hope all smokers take advantage of the resources available today for the Great American Smokeout and give quitting a chance.”

Smokers who want to quit can visit smokefree.gov for smoking cessation resources. Call 343-2344 or email at info.icpoc@gmail.com to find out more about ICP’s programs for pregnant and parenting smokers.

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