Context: Despite known adverse health effects, many women continue to smoke during pregnancy. Public attention has now focused on the economic as well as health effects of this behavior.
Objective: To estimate health care costs associated with smoking-attributable cases of placenta previa, abruptio placenta, ectopic pregnancy, preterm premature rupture of the membrane (PPROM), pre-eclampsia, and spontaneous abortion.
Design: Pooled odds ratios were used with data on total cases to estimate smoking-attributable cases. Estimated average costs for cases of ectopic pregnancy and spontaneous abortion were used to estimate smoking-attributable health care costs for these conditions. Incremental costs, or costs above those for a "normal" delivery, were used to estimate smoking-attributable costs of placenta previa, abruptio placenta, PPROM, and pre-eclampsia associated with delivery.
Setting: National estimates for 1993.
Participants: Data from the National Hospital Discharge Survey (NHDS) and claims data from a sample of large, self-insured employers across the country.
Results: Smoking-attributable costs ranged from $1.3 million for PPROM to $86 million for ectopic pregnancy. Smoking during pregnancy apparently protects against pre-eclampsia and saves between $36 and $49 million, depending on smoking prevalence. Over all conditions smoking-attributable costs ranged from $135 to $167 million.
Conclusions: Smoking during pregnancy is a preventable cause of higher health care costs for the conditions studied. While smoking during pregnancy was found to be protective against pre-eclampsia and, hence, saves costs, the net costs were still positive and significant. Effective smoking-cessation programs can reduce health care costs but clinicians will perhaps need to manage increased cases of pre-eclampsia in a cost-effective manner.