Nurse Angela Ratsch has 525,000 reasons to smile.
Nurse Angela Ratsch has 525,000 reasons to smile. Contributed

Warwick nurse to pioneer research

WHAT would you do if you were given $525,000?

Born, bred and trained Warwick nurse Angela Ratsch (nee Wilson) will be using it to spend the next five years researching the effects of chewing tobacco on pregnancy.

Mrs Ratsch was awarded the Health Research Fellowship grant from Queensland Health which will allow her to invest all her time and resources into the study.

"I've spent the last 15 years researching the issue, its origins, why women chew when pregnant and what effect it has on the pregnancy," Mrs Ratsch said.

"Because we are such a European type of population chewing is often over looked but most indigenous populations around the world chew tobacco."

"Because Australia is so multi-cultural we can't ignore the chewing habits of other cultures.

"In central Australia about 30 per cent of pregnant aboriginal women chew tobacco.

"While I was working in central Australia I noticed that the babies of chewers were smaller and born early and often with complications.

"We have a lot of evidence to say that smoking when pregnant is bad but there is no research outlining the risks of chewing when pregnant.

"Because we know that a healthy start to life is critical and that smoking tobacco is harmful we need to know what effect chewing it has.

Mrs Ratsch will be leading a team of international researchers from Canada, Sweden and India.

Mrs Ratsch will also be collaborating with the Senate of Disease Control in Atlanta, Georgia, US, and hopes to involve other countries such as China and those from Europe's Eastern Block.

"The outcomes of the research will change the health of millions of babies around the world."

Mrs Ratsch's credentials include hospital-based training, a bachelor and a masters of nursing, post-graduated qualifications including theatre nursing and midwifery, and she is currently a PHD scholar with the University of Queensland.

 

FACTS

Amount: $525,000 over five years

Aim: To research the effect chewing tobacco has on pregnant women and their babies.

Info: The grant is part of $20.55m Health and Medical Research program

The outcome of the research will change the health of millions of babies around the world.


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