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Last Edited: 1/22/2008

Prenatal Active or Passive Tobacco Smoke Exposure and the Risk of Preterm Delivery or Low Birth Weight
Written: 2000


We examined the association of exposure to environmental tobacco smoke with birth weight and gestational age in a large, prospective study. We also compared these endpoints between infants of active maternal smokers and those of non-smoking, non-ETS exposed women. Pregnant women were interviewed by telephone during the first trimester, and pregnancy outcome was determined for 99%. Among the 4,454 singleton live births that could be linked to their birth certificate, we confirmed increased risks of low birth weight and small for gestational age with heavier maternal smoking (>10 cigarettes/day), as well as noting an increased risk for "very preterm" birth (<35 weeks). These associations were generally stronger among infants of older (>=30 years) than those of younger mothers, as well as among non-whites. High environmental tobacco smoke exposure (>=7 hours/day in non-smokers) was moderately associated with low birth weight (adjusted odds ratio (AOR) 1.8, 95% confidence limits (95% CL) = 0.82, 4.1), preterm birth (AOR 1.6, 95% CL = 0.87, 2.9), and most strongly with very preterm birth (AOR 2.4, 95% CL = 1.0, 5.3). These associations were generally greater among non-whites than whites. The data support earlier studies suggesting that prenatal environmental tobacco smoke exposure, in addition to maternal smoking, affects infant health.

Full text at Epidemiology website

Suggested Citation

  • Windham GC, Hopkins B, Fenster L, Swan SH. Prenatal active or passive tobacco smoke exposure and the risk of preterm delivery or low birthweight. Epidemiology 11:427-433, 2000.