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February 3, 2000

Grant to fund programs aimed at pregnant smokers

Pitt's Office of Child Development will use a grant of $30,000 to develop and implement programs designed to help pregnant women quit smoking.

According to a recent Annie E. Casey Foundation study of 50 American cities, Pittsburgh ranks No. 1 in the percentage of births to mothers who smoked during pregnancy — 23.6 percent. Pittsburgh also has a higher than average percentage of low birthweight babies — 9.7 percent, compared to the study's average of 8.8 percent.

Researchers for the Starting Points Smoking Cessation Project for Pregnant Women will evaluate existing smoking cessation programs, review strategies for pregnant women who smoke in Allegheny County, consult with local and national experts to build a database of "best practice" interventions and hold a conference this spring on the Pitt campus to select proposed interventions. The goal is to provide data to county health officials to better address the problem of prenatal exposure to smoking and work to improve the health of local children.

"This project is unique in that its purpose is to unite university, community and government leaders to forge a unified agenda to reduce smoking during pregnancy," said Robert Nelkin, director of Starting Points. "The grant comes at a perfect time, as the state government considers how to best use tobacco lawsuit settlement funds."

The Starting Points Smoking Cessation Project for Pregnant Women is funded through the Jewish Healthcare Foundation. Starting Points, a program within the Office of Child Development, promotes responsible parenthood and mobilizes communities to support young children and their families.

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