Health officials recognized for spotting carbon monoxide issues

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Four alert health professionals each recently recognized something was wrong when screening four different mothers in the Baby and Me Tobacco Free program. In each situation, during a breathing evaluation as part of the program, the women all had troublesome levels of carbon monoxide in their systems. Home inspections were conducted, in which heating system gas leaks were identified and repaired, and the four mothers and their families were protected from harm.

All four professionals have been presented the Tennessee Department of Health's Commissioner's Achievement Award. The recipients include Kelly Hooks, RN, Putnam County Health Department; Andrea Sansone, The Edge Women's Care Center, Dayton; Kelly Soliman, RD, Cheatham County Health Department; and Katie Winterburn, MS, RDN, LDN, Lawrence County Health Department.

"Had these four dedicated professionals not asked thoughtful questions about the home environment for each mother, some negative outcomes could have resulted for the family," said TDH Assistant Commissioner of Community Health Services Leslie Humphreys. "The mothers participating in the Baby and Me program truly received above-and-beyond benefits from their efforts to be healthier."

"Carbon monoxide is often called 'the invisible killer' because it is odorless and colorless," said TDH Community Health Services Medical Director Jan BeVille, MD. "Carbon monoxide levels in Baby and Me breathing evaluations are used to verify tobacco-free commitments under the program. Elevated levels can indicate inhalation of tobacco smoke or exposure to other sources of carbon monoxide. These four professionals recognized a danger to health and took the appropriate actions to possibly save some lives."

Baby and Me Tobacco Free is an evidence-based tobacco cessation program available at no charge in many locations across Tennessee. Since the program was started in Tennessee in 2014, hundreds of pregnant women have ended their tobacco addictions, helping themselves and their children to enjoy tobacco-free, healthier living.

Smoking during pregnancy can cause premature birth, low birth weight infants, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome and pregnancy complications. To find the nearest Baby and Me program in Tennessee, visit http://babyandmetobaccofree.org/Pages/Providers.html.

The best way to protect yourself and your family from carbon monoxide poisoning is to install a carbon monoxide detector on every level of your home. These work very much like a smoke detector, giving a loud beep or other signal when carbon monoxide is detected. The inexpensive devices are available at most hardware stores. For more information, visit www.cdc.gov/co/faqs.htm.

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