ROCKINGHAM- A FirstHealth of the Carolinas program funded by the North Carolina Chapter of the March of Dimes will help educate Richmond County moms on the dangers of smoking and second-hand smoke to their unborn babies.
The Tobacco Cessation Program grant will support FirstQuit for Life, an additional tobacco-cessation service under the FirstHealth Community Health Services FirstQuit program.
FirstQuit for Life will address the effects of a mother’s tobacco use on her unborn child, the benefits of cessation for both mother and child, and the potential effects of second-hand smoke on infants.
The program is designed to reach at least 200 individuals who use the services of FirstHealth Richmond Medical Group-Women’s Center in Richmond County and surrounding counties.
Objectives are to educate pregnant women on the dangers of tobacco use and second-hand smoke, provide services that will ensure a reduction of tobacco use and second-hand smoke while maintaining a high quit rate of participants and to reduce the number of women who smoke or are exposed to smoke during pregnancy.
According to data collected from Community Health Services, more than 20 percent of expectant mothers in Richmond County smoke while pregnant. Women who smoke or are exposed to smoke during pregnancy have a higher risk of poor birth outcomes including premature birth, breathing difficulties for the baby and asthma.
Amy Hamilton Forester, outreach manager for FirstHealth Community Services in Richmond County says FirstQuit for Life will educate Richmond County mothers about the dangers of cigarettes. “There are more than 4,000 chemicals in cigarettes,” she says. “At least 60 are cancer causers.”
Forester expects that locating the program at the Women’s Center will make it convenient for prospective participants. The Women’s Center and Community Health Services will also invite families of expectant mothers to participate in the program.
“There is a chance for a better outcome if the family is involved,” says Forester.
FirstQuit has been offered to the general public since 2003, as FirstHealth of the Carolinas was beginning to implement its tobacco-free campus policy. Since then, the program has grown and expanded and now provides tobacco cessation services to more than 3,000 people.
“We looked at March of Dimes for the grant because of its mission and emphasis on helping newborns and their mothers,” Forester says. “Thanks to this grant, we will be able to make a difference.”
The mission of the March of Dimes is to improve the health of babies by preventing birth defects, premature births and infant mortality. The North Carolina March of Dimes chapter will be funding eight grants and 10 community awards throughout this year.
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