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Pregnancy Risk Hotline marks 30 years of service

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Posted at 4:45 PM, May 30, 2014
and last updated 2014-05-30 18:45:24-04

SALT LAKE CITY – A hotline that was created to help answer questions regarding pregnancy is celebrating three decades of work in Utah.

Former First Lady of Utah Norma Matheson took the first call for the Pregnancy Risk Hotline 30 years ago, and Friday she returned to help mark the anniversary.

“The people calling in now will probably be the babies who were being called about 30 years ago,” she said.

The Utah Department of Health and the University of Utah teamed up to create the hotline 30 years ago, and the service provides answers to questions about pregnancy free of charge. Kellie Baxter is one of those who have used the hotline.

“It was around Christmas time, I just found out I was pregnant, I was kinda nervous, and I'd eaten a bunch of chocolate rum balls, and I was like, I think those have alcohol, I should probably call somebody to see if this is OK,” she said.

John Carey, a founder of the Pregnancy Risk Line, spoke about the service.

“The average call is someone who is taking a medicine, just learned she’s pregnant, or is a few months into the pregnancy and starts to worry about her antidepressant,” he said.

Carey said they started with a few dozen calls a month, but now they answer about 10,000 calls each year.

Though many people turn to the Internet for help answering questions, Carey said the Pregnancy Risk Line is a valuable service.

“There might be a certain portion of people that actually would take it off the Internet, but you know what I think that loses? It loses that human touch,” he said.

Baxter agreed.

“If you get on the Internet there’s a lot of conflicting messages,” she said. “It’s nice to know you can call someone who has read all the literature and knows exactly what to tell you, takes out a lot of work on my part.”

The staff at the risk line is available Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Those in the Salt Lake area can call 801-328-2229 and the nationwide number is 1-866-626-6847. Visit health.utah.gov for more information.