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Posted 07.07.05
 
 
   

Study Targets Stress to Help Pregnant Women Stop Smoking

MU Researcher: "Baby Beep" program gives women a lifeline

COLUMBIA, MO -- A pregnant woman is having a stressful day but instead of reaching for a cigarette, she reaches for the phone. As part of a study to help pregnant women kick the habit, researchers are giving the women a lifeline to help them deal with stress. The University of Missouri-Columbia's Sinclair School of Nursing is providing low-income, pregnant women with a phone number and 24-hour access to a nurse in hopes the women will call and talk about their problems instead of using a cigarette to calm their nerves.

Now, the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development is giving the Baby Beep program nearly $2 million to continue helping these women even after their babies are born. This part of the study is called Baby Beep for Kids. More than 600 women have been recruited for the study from WIC (Women, Infants, and Children) clinics across Missouri. Linda Bullock, associate professor of nursing, said research shows that women who smoke while pregnant tend to be rural, Caucasian, low-income, undereducated and have a great deal of stress in their lives.

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"We have driven hundreds of thousands of miles in the past four years for this study to intervene with these women," said Bullock. "Women who are not stressed make better mothers."

The participants take part in the Baby Beep program until six weeks after delivery and then they are recruited into Baby Beep for Kids. They receive a call from a nurse once a week and can page their nurse anytime to talk about anything that is causing them stress. These calls also allow nurses to give the women access to resources such as the Parents as Teachers program and classes as well as information on parenting issues.

"The goal is to get them to stop smoking," Bullock said. "We also want to make better mothers so we can improve the next generation by improving these women's lives now."

Bullock has several files filled with notes and letters from the women who went through the program expressing their appreciation. One letter reads "I'm a year smoke-free! I can't believe it. I will never forget how your encouragement helped me in one of the toughest battles I've ever fought."

Bullock considers the study a success. She said only seven of the 600 women have been lost to follow-up. Saliva samples are collected monthly to see if the women are smoking.

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