Babies exposed to secondhand smoke have many more ear infections, colds, other illnesses, and hospitalizations than babies who live in smokefree environments. Even though smoking rates in California are going down, about one of every five newborns in the State has a smoking parent. Babies also are exposed to secondhand smoke from other family members, friends, and at day-care centers.
Keep Me Smokefree is an exciting new program to help mothers and other household members keep their newborn babies and other children away from cigarette smoke. This research project will make the new program available to 300 ethnically diverse women and their families through the doctor that the baby sees. Before the baby is born, these women will be called on the telephone and told more about how dangerous secondhand smoke is for newborns. They also will be helped to identify sources of secondhand smoke that might affect their babies and to develop personal plans for keeping their babies smokefree. When the doctor sees the baby in the hospital, he or she will remind the mother to keep her baby away from secondhand smoke and give the baby a bib to help the family remember. The doctor will discuss secondhand smoke again when family members bring the baby for check-ups. At the end of some visits, the doctor will give the baby more small gifts (such as a rattle or a ball) with the Keep Me Smokefree message. An office working with the doctor will support these efforts by talking with mothers and other family members on the telephone, by helping mothers in developing plans to establish and maintain a smokefree environment, by mailing them written materials, and by referring them to community resources.
To see how well the program works, the 300 babies whose families received the program will be compared with 300 other babies when all babies are 12 months old. We expect that mothers of infants in the first group will report that their babies are exposed to much less secondhand smoke than mothers of babies in the second group. We also expect mothers of babies in the first group to report that their babies didn't have as many ear infections and other illnesses as babies in the second group. Because mothers might be tempted to tell the researchers what they want to hear, their reports will be checked against tests of urine from some babies and with doctors' medical records.
This study will help to identify better ways of preventing children's exposure to secondhand smoke. It also will provide a way for mothers, fathers, other household members and doctors to work together in order to keep babies and other young children healthy. After the study is completed, mothers and families who did not receive the program will be sent program materials. These also will be available for distribution to doctors offices and to others who work to protect children's health. |