Background: Many women abstain from smoking during pregnancy, but relapse rates in the first year postpartum are high. The impact of childbirth on long-term abstinence from smoking is unknown for both women and men.
Methods: We assessed the impact of childbirth on long-term abstinence from smoking (minimum: 17 months, much longer in most cases) in a retrospective cohort analysis of 925 women and 1,494 men who were interviewed in 1984 to 1986 in the national baseline survey of the German Cardiovascular Prevention Study.
Results: Among women, smoking cessation rates resulting in long-term abstinence were about three times higher during the year of childbirth and the year before than in other years (adjusted rate ratio, 2.98; 95% confidence interval, 2.21-4.03). Childbirth was also associated with increased cessation rates among better educated men (adjusted rate ratio for this subgroup, 1.84; 95% confidence interval, 1.16-2.92), but not among less educated men. Nevertheless, childbirth led to long-term abstinence from smoking only in a small minority of smoking mothers and fathers.
Conclusion: Despite increased cessation rates around childbirth, more effective measures are needed to promote sustained abstinence after childbirth among both parents.