Effects of smoking on pregnancy and newborn infants

Am J Obstet Gynecol. 1979 Sep 15;135(2):281-4. doi: 10.1016/0002-9378(79)90369-7.


PIP: Davies and associates along with this researcher observed depressed weight gain among mothers who smoked cigarettes during pregnancy; this depressed gain was dose-related and in both studies statistically accounted for most of the effects of smoking on birth weight. Meyer asserts that she has not observed depressed weight gain with smoking, but she fails to present the distribution of maternal weight gain by smoking separately for light and moderate smokers. Since the effect on light smokers observed in the other studies is weak, a strong effect on the smaller number of heavy smokers might obscure Meyer's data. On reviewing the English language literature, Kass and this researcher found an intense interaction of social status with smoking related to the potential lethality in the fetus. Upper-status smokers protect their fetuses from the effects of smoking whereas lower-status smokers do not. There is now evidence that this partial protection is likely mediated by a sustained weight gain in pregnancy. Meyer's assertion that the depressed weight gain of the smoking mothers in the studies of Davies and this researcher reflected lowered fetal weight is impossible. Birth weights were depressed by a few hundred grams; maternal weight gains among heaviest smokers were depressed by more than 10 times that amount.

MeSH terms

  • Birth Weight*
  • Body Weight*
  • Diet
  • Female
  • Gestational Age
  • Humans
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications / physiopathology*
  • Research Design
  • Smoking / physiopathology*