Kicking the habit: Program focuses on helping moms quit smoking

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POSTED: Thursday, April 10, 2014 - 3:43pm

UPDATED: Friday, April 11, 2014 - 4:34pm

For a lot of women, the moment they find out they're pregnant, they stop smoking. Except, for some, it's not always that easy.

More than 9,000 babies here in Louisiana are born premature. One reason is because that baby's mom smoked while she was pregnant.

That's where Ashlee Menke comes in.

"I actually have two small children, a one-year-old and a two-year-old. When I was pregnant with my first child, the grant came up for Baby and Me," Menke said. "So at that time I was very passionate about healthy pregnancy, and it just really meshed my two passions together."

Menke helped run the Baby and Me Tobacco-Free Program in Orleans and St. Tammany Parish. She thinks people here in Baton Rouge need it too.

"The problem of smoking during pregnancy is statewide. There's high rates all across the state," Menke said. "So, any benefits that happened in St. Tammany Parish or Orleans Parish can definitely be seen here in East Baton Rouge.

Now, thanks to a big grant given to Family Road of Greater Baton Rouge by the Louisiana Chapter of March of Dimes, that program is coming to the Capital City.

"We're here to provide them with that support along their journey to make sure they're doing what's best not just for them, but for the health of their baby," said Sherral Franklin, the program coordinator at Family Road of Greater Baton Rouge.

Each time a mom comes in for an appointment, they'll have to breathe into a carbon monoxide monitor.

"Say a mother comes in for the first time, and they are smoking a pack a day. When they breathe into t
the monitor, it will be in the red," Menke explained. "With each visit, they'll see that their levels are lowering and that it's improving. The next time they come back they're total quit, and they're totally green. So it's so exciting for a mother to see her improvement."

Menke said this program will help the mom, the baby and the community

"So now we have a healthy baby, and now we've lead to the creation of a healthy family," Menke said.

If you want to learn more about the Baby and Me Tobacco-Free Program, you can go here: www.familyroadgbr.org.

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