West Virginia, with a rate that is nearly triple that of the rest of the nation, has the highest rate for women who smoke while pregnant. Despite statewide efforts, the number of women in the state who use tobacco before, during, and after pregnancy has remained virtually unchanged for over 20 years. This is a significant health concern, as maternal smoking is one of the most prevalent modifiable risk factors for poor birth outcomes.
The West Virginia Perinatal Partnership (“the Partnership”) with support from the West Virginia Bureau for Public Health’s Division of Tobacco Prevention and Office of Maternal and Child Health, has developed the Smoking Cessation in Pregnancy Project. This new initiative will provide physician leadership and engagement, consultation, and recommendations on provider and practice policies in order to reduce the rates of pregnant women who smoke. The initial focus of the program will be a training and educational effort to ensure that all maternity and pediatric providers in the state are provided the tools to give consistent and ongoing messages regarding the importance of tobacco cessation before, during and after pregnancy. The Partnership will establish a committee, led by physician champions and consisting of other health care professionals and experts who can advise, implement changes, and coordinate efforts.
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