IU public health researchers receive $900,000 grant to help pregnant women stop smoking

Oct. 7, 2013


BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Public health researchers at Indiana University received a three-year, $900,000 grant from the Indiana State Department of Health to study the cost benefit of new, innovative strategies to reduce smoking during pregnancy.

One of the Indiana State Department of Health’s top three initiatives is to lower the state’s infant mortality rate, which is sixth worst in the United States. Smoking during pregnancy is a major contributor to infant mortality, and Indiana has one of the highest rates of smoking during pregnancy: 16.6 percent compared to 13 percent nationally.

“The State Health Department deserves a lot of credit for tackling this important public health issue for Indiana by investing in research to identify effective interventions that will save most importantly lives but also scarce resources," said Jon Macy, lead researcher for the project and assistant professor at the IU School of Public Health-Bloomington. "We really need to lower the rate of smoking during pregnancy in Indiana, so I’m excited to get started on this project.”

Macy is working with a team of researchers from the IU School of Public Health-Bloomington and the Richard M. Fairbanks School of Public Health at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis. One researcher is from Florida International University.

Macy said women will be enrolled in the study at prenatal clinics in central and south-central Indiana. They will be followed throughout their pregnancy and for up to six months after delivery to assess the effect of the intervention on smoking and health outcomes.

Women who smoke during pregnancy have more than twice the risk of delivering a low-birth-weight baby, and babies of mothers who smoked during pregnancy have twice the risk of sudden infant death syndrome.

The study will involve different levels of financial incentives, with a working hypothesis that the incentives would be much cheaper than the medical expenses associated with a pre-term, low-birth-weight baby.

Macy said smoking is a difficult habit for anyone to quit, but pregnant women have additional challenges.

"One consideration unique to pregnant women is whether the physician thinks it’s OK to use nicotine replacement therapy," he said. "Quitting without nicotine replacement is more difficult. The other unique consideration would be remaining abstinent from smoking after the baby is born. Many women successfully quit during the pregnancy but then relapse soon after the birth of their child. We will be following the women for up to six months after delivery to see if our intervention has any lasting effect."

Members of the team include Susan Middlestadt, associate professor, and Rachel Dowty, research associate and director of this research project, IU School of Public Health-Bloomington; Greg Wilson, professor and associate dean for global and community health, and Dr. Stephen Jay, professor, Fairbanks School of Public Health; and Alejandro Arrieta, assistant professor in the Robert Stempel College of Public Health and Social Work at Florida International University.

To speak with Macy, contact Tracy James at 812-855-0084 or traljame@iu.edu.

About the School of Public Health-Bloomington

With nearly 3,000 students in an array of undergraduate and advanced degree programs, the School of Public Health-Bloomington offers a traditional campus experience enriched by 21st-century innovation. More than 120 faculty in five academic departments -- Department of Kinesiology; Department of Applied Health Science; Department of Recreation, Park and Tourism Studies; Department of Environmental Health; and Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics -- conduct research, teach and engage with communities across a broad spectrum of health, wellness and disease-prevention topics. Each department offers numerous majors, minors and opportunities for graduate and undergraduate studies. In addition to its academic departments, the school administers Campus Recreational Sports, which serves roughly 80 percent of the IU Bloomington student body through various intramural, club and individual sports opportunities.

About the Richard M. Fairbanks School of Public Health at IUPUI

The Fairbanks School of Public Health is dedicated to the pursuit of health for all people. Health is defined as the capacity to develop full human potential, not simply the absence of disease. In promoting the health of communities, the school emphasizes the prevention of disease and injury and recognizes the interconnectedness of the physical environment and ecosystem to the health of the community. The representation of the interests of the public in health policies and practices is critical and the school supports activities that promote this comprehensive view. The school is committed to the principles of equality, shared decision-making, and a focus on the social, biological and environmental determinants of health. Faculty, staff and students embrace collaborative and participatory activities as a means of working collectively with other institutions and organizations in the community, across the state, nationally and internationally to ensure healthy communities and populations, a prerequisite for social justice.