Does Maternal Exposure to Secondhand Tobacco Smoke During Pregnancy Increase the Risk for Preterm or Small-for-Gestational Age Birth?

Matern Child Health J. 2018 Oct;22(10):1418-1429. doi: 10.1007/s10995-018-2522-1.


Introduction While associations between active smoking and various adverse birth outcomes (ABOs) have been reported in the literature, less is known about the impact of secondhand smoke (SHS) on many pregnancy outcomes. Methods We examined the relationship between maternal exposure to SHS during pregnancy and preterm (< 37 weeks gestation) and small-for-gestational age (SGA; assessed using sex-, race/ethnic-, and parity-specific growth curves) singleton births using non-smoking controls from the National Birth Defects Prevention Study (1997-2011). Multivariable logistic regression models for household, workplace/school, and combined SHS exposure-controlled for maternal education, race/ethnicity, pre-pregnancy body mass index, and high blood pressure-were used to estimate adjusted odds ratios (aORs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs). Interaction was assessed for maternal folic acid supplementation, alcohol use, age at delivery, and infant sex. Results Infants of 8855 mothers were examined in the preterm birth analysis with 666 (7.5%) categorized as preterm, 574 moderately preterm (32-36 weeks), and 92 very preterm (< 32 weeks). For the SGA analysis, infants of 8684 mothers were examined with 670 (7.7%) categorized as SGA. The aORs for mothers reporting both household and workplace/school SHS were elevated for preterm (aOR 1.99; 95% CI 1.13-3.50) and moderately preterm birth (32-36 weeks) (aOR 2.17; 95% CI 1.22-3.88). No results for the SGA analysis achieved significance, nor was evidence of interaction evident. Conclusion The findings suggest an association between SHS from multiple exposure sources and preterm birth, but no evidence for association with SGA births. Continued study of SHS and ABOs is needed to best inform public health prevention programs.

Keywords: Environmental tobacco smoke; Passive smoking; Preterm birth; Secondhand smoke; Small-for-gestational age.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Educational Status
  • Female
  • Gestational Age
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Small for Gestational Age*
  • Male
  • Maternal Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Outcome
  • Premature Birth / chemically induced*
  • Premature Birth / epidemiology
  • Tobacco
  • Tobacco Smoke Pollution / adverse effects*
  • Tobacco Smoke Pollution / statistics & numerical data


  • Tobacco Smoke Pollution