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PhD Candidate

Angela Ratsch
RN, RM, OpTheatre, BN, MNst, Grad Cert Cl Ed. 

Angela is a recipient of:


Angela is examining the effects of chewing wild tobacco (Nicotiana spp.) on maternal and neonatal outcomes.


The chewing of plant material containing pharmacologically active components including nicotine occurs throughout the world’s Indigenous populations including the Americas, Africa, the Indian subcontinent and the Asia-Pacific region together with Australia. This practice often occurs during pregnancy and continues whilst breast-feeding. 
The overwhelming evidence is that the inhalation of burnt tobacco (smoking) leads to adverse maternal and neonatal outcomes, and although the chewing of tobacco occurs in Indigenous populations around the world, the maternal and neonatal outcomes of tobacco chewing has been the subject of scant investigation.


The practice of chewing wild tobacco plants (collectively and colloquially known by a variety of names, one of which is pituri) by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander populations is common in the central regions of Australia. In this environment, characterised by ill health and disease prevalence as experienced by Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women living in the more regional and remote areas of Australia, the issue of maternal tobacco chewing during pregnancy has been overlooked, yet may prove to have a substantial impact on the health of the mother and child.
This research, which is contextualised from and to the remote Australian Aboriginal populations, builds on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander ethnobotanical knowledge and practices to determine whether a relationship exists between the chewing of pituri during pregnancy and maternal and neonatal outcomes.
In this research, the population sample crosses Australian State and Territory borders and represents the Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women who live within the vast central area of Australia.


Associate Professor Fiona Bogossian
Karen Mortiz
Associate Professor Kathryn Steadman