Objective: This case-control study determined whether internationally recognized risk factors for small-for-gestational-age (SGA) term babies were applicable in New Zealand.
Methodology: All babies were born at 37 or more completed weeks of gestation in one of three hospitals in Auckland. Cases weighed less than the sex specific 10th percentile for gestational age at birth, and controls (appropriate-for-gestational-age (AGA)) were a random selection of heavier babies. Information was collected by maternal interview and from obstetric databases.
Results: Information from 1714 completed interviews (844 SGA and 870 AGA) was available for analysis. Computerized obstetric records were available for 1691 of the 1701 women who consented to such access. In a multivariate analysis allowing for sex, gestational age at birth, social class and other potential confounders, mothers who smoked had a significantly increased risk of an SGA baby (adjusted OR 2.41; 95% CI 1.78-3.28), as did primiparous mothers (adjusted OR 1.34; 95% CI 1.03-1.73), mothers of Indian ethnicity (adjusted OR 3.22; 95% CI 1.95-5.30), women with pre-eclamptic toxaemia (adjusted OR 2.42; 95% CI 1.08-5.40) and those with pre-existing hypertension toxaemia (adjusted OR 5.49; 95% CI 1.81-16.71). Mothers of SGA infants were shorter (P < 0.001) and reported lower prepregnancy body weights (P < 0.001) than mothers of AGA infants. The population attributable fraction for smoking suggests that up to 18% of SGA infants born in the ABC Study could be related to maternal smoking.
Conclusions: Risk factors associated with SGA births in other countries are also important in New Zealand. Smoking in pregnancy is an important and potentially modifiable behaviour, and efforts to decrease the number of women who smoke during pregnancy should be encouraged.