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Drug Alcohol Depend. 2009 Oct 1;104 Suppl 1:S24-33. doi: 10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2008.12.005. Epub 2009 Jan 28.

Educational attainment and smoking among women: risk factors and consequences for offspring.

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Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University, New York, NY 10032, USA.


We examine the association between education and smoking by women in the population, including smoking during pregnancy, and identify risk factors for smoking and the consequences of smoking in pregnancy for children's smoking and behavioral problems. Secondary analyses of four national data sets were implemented: The National Survey of Drug Use and Health (2006), the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (1979-2004); the National Longitudinal Survey of Adolescent Health (Wave III); National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (2005-2006). The lower the level of education, the greater the risk of being a current smoker, smoking daily, smoking heavily, being nicotine dependent, starting to smoke at an early age, having higher levels of circulating cotinine per cigarettes smoked, and continuing to smoke in pregnancy. The educational gradient is especially strong in pregnancy. Educational level and smoking in pregnancy independently increase the risk of offspring smoking and antisocial and anxious/depressed behavior problems. These effects persist with control for other covariates, except maternal age at child's birth, which accounts for the impact of education on offspring smoking and anxious/depressed behavior problems. Women with low education should be the target of public health efforts toward reducing tobacco use. These efforts need to focus as much on social conditions that affect women's lives as on individual level interventions. These interventions would have beneficial effects not only for the women themselves but also for their offspring.

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