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Research to examine tobacco and nicotine impacts during pregnancy

A SENIOR Wide Bay Hospital and Health Service nurse and research director has received $300,000 to investigate tobacco and nicotine exposure patterns in pregnant Australian First Nations women, with a view to improving health outcomes.

Director of Research Education, Development and Support Dr Angela Ratsch’s grant is part of a $4 million funding boost from the Queensland Government to investigate vital health issues across the state.

Dr Ratsch will collaborate with Galangoor Duwalami Primary Healthcare Service, The Poche Centre for Indigenous Health at the University of Sydney, NHMRC Centre of Research Excellence in Stillbirth and The University of Queensland on the research.

“In Wide Bay, the rate of smoking in pregnancy is still high, including by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women,” said Dr Ratsch, who has developed a special research interest in pregnancy and nicotine or tobacco products and outcomes in recent years.

“We’ve known for many years that smoking in pregnancy has a range of adverse outcomes for the mother and baby in the short, medium and long term.

“However, pregnancy-related research has not kept pace with the ever-increasing range and availability of novel nicotine and tobacco products, for example e-cigarettes and nicotine mists and lozenges – many of which pregnant women swap in during pregnancy as a means of swapping out their cigarette use.

“In addition, we don’t understand how these products impact at the genome level for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women.

“This Fellowship is targeted at understanding the effects of these products in pregnancy and improving the health outcomes of mothers and their babies. The research is co-designed with local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Services and international and national academics and scientific experts.”

For more information about the grants and other recipients, click here.

Last updated: 16 December 2020