Chaffee County Public Health

A new study on the Baby & Me – Tobacco Free program, which has operated in Chaffee County the past seven years, indicates it improves the health of mothers and babies and saves Colorado millions in health care costs.

The program provides financial incentives for women to quit smoking during pregnancy.

The study, conducted by Rocky Mountain Health Foundation and Colorado School of Public Health at the Anschutz Medical Campus, examined results of Baby & Me – Tobacco Free throughout Colorado.

“Young women, especially when raised in low-income households, are a vulnerable target for tobacco use,” Tessa Crume, associate professor at Colorado School of Public Health and lead researcher in the study, said in a press release.

Smoking during pregnancy is one of the biggest risk factors for infant morbidity and mortality in the United States, the release stated.

Baby & Me – Tobacco Free includes counseling provided throughout pregnancy and the postpartum period and offers vouchers for free diapers to women who quit smoking.

A partner or family member who lives with the mother and who also smokes can participate in the program, doubling the diaper incentive.

Bev Orrill, director of Chaffee County Public Health’s program, said, “In the past seven years, Chaffee County Public Health has worked with over 140 women and partners to quit smoking while pregnant and continue to stay smoke free for 12 months after delivery.

“(Chaffee County Public Health)works with all women regardless of their financial situation. Addiction is powerful, and Baby and Me – Tobacco Free provides the incentive to quit tobacco and stay quit.”

Among key findings from the study was that program participants had a 24-28 percent reduction in risk of preterm birth and a 24-55 percent reduction in risk of neonatal intensive care unit admissions.

The study also showed the program had cost savings of $6,040 per participant compared to the birth certificate population, for total annual cost savings for Colorado of up to $4,144,118.

Lisa Fenton Free, director of the Baby & Me – Tobacco Free program at Rocky Mountain Health Foundation, said the program “continues year after year to improve the lives of mothers, babies and even family members as well. To prevent preterm deliveries, low birth weights and improve their overall health is impactful immediately and for years to come.”

Mothers interested in participating in the program locally can contact Chaffee County Public Health at 719-539-4510.

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