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N Engl J Med. 1999 Sep 23;341(13):943-8.

The influence of gestational age and smoking habits on the risk of subsequent preterm deliveries.

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Department of Medical Epidemiology, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden.



Previous preterm delivery and maternal smoking are associated with increased risks of preterm delivery. It is not known whether gestational age at the time of a preterm delivery is correlated with gestational age in successive preterm deliveries and whether changes in smoking habits influence the subsequent risk of preterm delivery.


We studied the associations among smoking habits, previous very preterm or moderately preterm delivery (before 32 weeks and at 32 to 36 weeks, respectively), and the risk of a subsequent very preterm or moderately preterm delivery in a population-based cohort of 243,858 women in Sweden between 1983 and 1993. The results were adjusted for covariates known to be associated with preterm delivery.


The odds ratios for very or moderately preterm delivery in a subsequent pregnancy among women with a previous very preterm delivery, as compared with women who had a previous term delivery, were 12.4 (95 percent confidence interval, 9.1 to 17.0) and 7.1 (95 percent confidence interval, 6.0 to 8.4), respectively. Among women with a previous moderately preterm delivery, the corresponding odds ratios were 2.3 (95 percent confidence interval, 1.9 to 3.0) and 5.9 (95 percent confidence interval, 5.5 to 6.3), respectively. The odds ratios for a very preterm second delivery among the women who smoked 1 to 9 cigarettes per day and those who smoked 10 or more cigarettes per day, as compared with nonsmokers, were 1.4 (95 percent confidence interval, 1.1 to 1.7) and 1.6 (95 percent confidence interval, 1.3 to 2.0), respectively. The corresponding odds ratios for moderate preterm delivery were 1.3 (95% confidence interval, 1.2 to 1.4) and 1.5 (95 percent confidence interval, 1.4 to 1.6). The women who quit smoking between pregnancies were not at increased risk for very or moderately preterm delivery, whereas the women who started to smoke in the second pregnancy had the same risk as those who continued to smoke.


The risk of a very preterm delivery in successive pregnancies is increased primarily among women with a previous very preterm delivery. Changes in smoking habits influence the risk of preterm delivery as well.

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