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Text messaging program aids pregnant women to quit smoking

Researchers modified an already-successful program aimed at reducing alcohol consumption during pregnancy to help mothers-to-be who smoke.

By Amy Wallace
Text messaging program aids pregnant women to quit smoking
Researchers have found that an intensive text messaging program may help some pregnant women struggling to quit smoking kick the habit. Photo by TC-TORRES/PixaBay

Oct. 2 (UPI) -- Researchers say an intensive text messaging program they tested in a study could help pregnant women quit smoking.

The study, published today in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, recruited 500 pregnant women who were already enrolled in an established text messaging program, Text4baby, to establish its efficacy.

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Text4baby has already been found to help women avoid alcohol consumption during pregnancy, but not for smoking.

Researchers tested the Quit4baby text messaging program with women already enrolled in the program who smoked an average of seven cigarettes per day and needed help to quit.

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They sent one to eight texts per day to help educate the women about health risks associated with smoking during pregnancy. The program is interactive and allows women to text back for additional help if they are experiencing a craving.

The study results showed that after three months, 16 percent of the women enrolled in both Text4baby and Quit4baby had quit -- compared to just 11 percent enrolled in only Text4baby.

Combined, the Text4baby and Quit4baby programs helped women age 26 and older, and women in the second and third trimester of pregnancy, quit through their delivery date -- and beyond, in some cases. Many of the women, however, started smoking again after giving birth.

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"Our findings show that a text messaging program helped some groups of pregnant women quit smoking during pregnancy," Lorien Abroms, an associate professor of prevention and community health at Milken Institute School of Public Health at George Washington University, said in a press release. "The study's findings suggest a potential new quitting strategy, especially for those later in their pregnancies and older pregnant women."

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