Background: Smoking in pregnancy is known to be associated with a range of adverse pregnancy outcomes, yet there is a high prevalence of smoking among pregnant women in many countries, and it remains a major public health concern. We have conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis to provide contemporary estimates of the association between maternal smoking in pregnancy and the risk of stillbirth.
Methods: We searched four databases namely MEDLINE, EMBASE, Psych Info and Web of Science for all relevant original studies published until 31(st) December 2012. We included observational studies that measured the association between maternal smoking during pregnancy and the risk of stillbirth.
Results: 1766 studies were screened for title analysis, of which 34 papers (21 cohorts, 8 case controls and 5 cross sectional studies) met the inclusion criteria. In meta-analysis smoking during pregnancy was significantly associated with a 47% increase in the odds of stillbirth (OR 1.47, 95% CI 1.37, 1.57, p < 0.0001). In subgroup analysis, smoking 1-9 cig/day and ≥10 cig/day was associated with an 9% and 52% increase in the odds of stillbirth respectively. Subsequently, studies defining stillbirth at ≥ 20 weeks demonstrated a 43% increase in odds for smoking mothers compared to mothers who do not smoke, (OR 1.43, 95% CI 1.32, 1.54, p < 0.0001), whereas studies with stillbirth defined at ≥ 24 weeks and ≥ 28 weeks showed 58% and 33% increase in the odds of stillbirth respectively.
Conclusion: Our review confirms a dose-response effect of maternal smoking in pregnancy on risk of stillbirth. To minimise the risk of stillbirth, reducing current smoking prevalence in pregnancy should continue to be a key public health high priority.