Objectives: To determine the frequency of smoking and second-hand smoke exposure among pregnant women in Ecuador and to describe the sociodemographic profiles associated with these perinatal risk factors.
Methods: A cross-sectional descriptive study using a survey of women 18-46 years of age who were more than three months pregnant and attended follow-up consultations in seven maternity clinics in six cities in Ecuador between October 2004 and September 2005. Demographics and environmental exposure (independent variables) data and their relationship to cigarette smoking and secondhand-smoke exposure were analyzed.
Results: Of the 746 women studied, 53.3% had smoked occasionally, and 4.3%, regularly; of these, 75% had quit smoking before or during pregnancy. Of the respondents, 12.9% were frequently or always exposed to secondhand smoke indoors. Having more education (11 or more years), being in the middle or upper socioeconomic classes, being Caucasian, and it being considered acceptable for women in the community to smoke were significantly and directly associated with cigarette smoking (P<0.001). Overall, 12.9% of women were being exposed to secondhand smoke and this was significantly associated with being single and cohabiting with smokers or employees connected to the tobacco industry (P<0.001).
Conclusions: Specific measures must be designed and implemented to not only encourage smoking cessation during pregnancy, but also to prevent women of reproductive age from taking up smoking and to limit smoking in the home environment.