Reporting Gigi Barnett
BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Breaking Baltimore’s high infant mortality rate. The city has a new campaign designed to clear the air for babies and pregnant women.
Gigi Barnett explains.
Baltimore’s infant mortality rate remains stubbornly high, especially among African-American infants. Doctors say cigarette smoke is part of the problem.
“It’s bad for the person who does it, it’s bad for the growing baby, it’s bad for the babies around them,” said Dr. Himani Shishodia. “It’s bad for everybody.”
This week, the city’s Health Department unveiled a new campaign called Bmore For Healthy Babies. It’s targeted at smokers, asking them to step away when they light up.
“We want smoke-free environments for pregnant women and their babies,” said City Health Commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot. “They’re common acts of courtesy.”
Some smokers are on board.
“Just go ahead and take a walk and chill and smoke your cigarette,” said smoker Nathaniel Knox. “Maybe drink a coffee.”
Last year, the city launched a similar campaign focused on a safe sleeping environment for babies. Health workers saw a 40 percent drop in the number of babies and toddlers who died from sleep-related deaths like SIDS.
“While we are cautiously optimistic that this drop is something that will be sustained, we are very confident that the efforts that we’re doing are starting to pay off,” Barbot said.
Bmore For Healthy Babies is a year-long campaign that’s also helped obese mothers lose weight, as well as boosted the number of house visits by doctors.
Last month, the Bmore For Healthy Babies campaign received a $1.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.