by Sen. Lena Taylor
One of the most gut-wrenching scenes is watching a parent’s pain in the neo-natal unit of a hospital as a premature baby, draped in tubes and on life support, lingers between life and death.
November is Infant Prematurity Awareness Month, and as such, the Wisconsin Tobacco Prevention & Poverty Network (WTPPN), is urging expectant mothers to quit smoking—one of the risk factors leading to premature births.
According to the March of Dimes, premature birth is the number one killer of newborns. Moreover, more than half the babies born in the United States—or one in every eight—are born premature each year. Aside from the emotional toll—pain, heartache and life-long disability issues—premature births take on families, they cost our society more than $26 billion a year.
While certainly there are other risk factors that contribute to premature birth, one of the culprits on the list is mom smoking cigarettes or being exposed to second hand smoke.
To that end, mothers who want to delivery healthy babies owe it to themselves, their families and their babies to get the help they need to quit smoking. There are a myriad of smoking cessation options available to mothers to increase the likelihood that they will deliver healthy babies, many of which are free.
Put plain and simply: smoking and pregnancy do not mix. Besides increasing the likelihood of premature births, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that smoking cigarettes causes certain birth defects, infant death, miscarriages, and when babies are born too early, they have a low birth weight—making it more likely babies will be sick and have to stay in the hospital longer.
The negative aspects of smoking while pregnant are irrefutable, but there is good news. Many of the risks cited above are alleviated if mom quits smoking, and the odds of delivering a healthy, happy baby are significantly improved.
On behalf of the WTPPN, as we shine the spotlight on Prematurity Awareness Month, there is no better time to encourage expectant moms to kick the habit and enjoy your baby!
We invite the community to join the Wisconsin Tobacco Prevention and Poverty Network on November 17, from 2 -4 p.m. at St. Marks AME Church, 1616 West Wisconsin Avenue for a community call-to-action to end Infant Prematurity. To RSVP, call 888-726-5867.