Exposure to Tobacco, Environmental Tobacco Smoke and Nicotine in Pregnancy: A Pragmatic Overview of Reviews of Maternal and Child Outcomes, Effectiveness of Interventions and Barriers and Facilitators to Quitting

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2020 Mar 19;17(6):2034. doi: 10.3390/ijerph17062034.


The aim of this review of reviews was to collate the latest evidence from systematic reviews about the maternal and child health outcomes of being exposed to tobacco and nicotine during pregnancy; the effectiveness of interventions designed to reduce these exposures, and barriers to and facilitators of smoking cessation during pregnancy. Two databases were searched to obtain systematic reviews published from 2010 to 2019. Pertinent data from 76 articles were summarized using a narrative synthesis (PROSPERO reference: CRD42018085896). Exposure to smoke or tobacco in other forms during pregnancy is associated with an increased risk of obstetric complications and adverse health outcomes for children exposed in-utero. Counselling interventions are modestly effective, while incentive-based interventions appear to substantially increase smoking cessation. Nicotine replacement therapy is effective during pregnancy but the evidence is not conclusive. Predictors and barriers to smoking cessation in pregnancy are also discussed. Smoking during pregnancy poses substantial risk to mother's and child's health. Psychosocial interventions and nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) appear to be effective in helping pregnant women quit smoking. Barriers to smoking cessation must be identified and steps taken to eradicate them in order to reduce smoking among pregnant women. More research is needed on smoking cessation medications and e-cigarettes.

Keywords: barriers to smoking cessation; e-cigarettes; environmental tobacco smoke; maternal and child health; pregnancy; smokeless tobacco; smoking cessation; smoking cessation interventions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Nicotine
  • Pregnancy
  • Smoking Cessation*
  • Tobacco
  • Tobacco Smoke Pollution*
  • Tobacco Use Cessation Devices


  • Tobacco Smoke Pollution
  • Nicotine