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BMC Public Health. 2013 Apr 15;13:341. doi: 10.1186/1471-2458-13-341.

Effects of secondhand smoke on the birth weight of term infants and the demographic profile of Saudi exposed women.

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Sheikh Bahamdan Research Chair of Evidence-Based Healthcare and Knowledge Translation, College of Medicine, King Saud University, P.O. Box 102799, Riyadh 11685, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.



Maternal exposure to tobacco smoke during pregnancy is associated with detrimental effects on the mother and the fetus including; impaired fetal growth, low birth weight and preterm delivery. In utero exposure to tobacco is implicated in the etiology of many adults' diseases including obesity, diabetes and hypertension.The objectives of this study were to evaluate the effects of Secondhand Tobacco Smoke (SHS) exposure on newborns' anthropometric measurements and to compare the demographic profile of the women exposed to SHS to those who were not.


This is a retrospective cohort study investigating the effects of SHS during pregnancy on newborns' anthropometry. Women who self-reported SHS exposure were compared with those not exposed. The primary outcomes were birth weight, newborn length and head circumference. Univariate analysis and multivariate regression analysis were performed. Adjusted differences with 95% confidence intervals were calculated.


Mothers exposed to SHS constituted 31% of the cohort. The mean birth weight of infants of exposed mothers was significantly lower by 35 g, 95% CI: 2-68 g, (Pā€‰=ā€‰0.037) and the mean length was shorter by 0.261 cm, 95% CI 0.058-0.464 cm, (Pā€‰=ā€‰0.012) compared to the infants of unexposed mothers. Women exposed to SHS, were younger, of lower parity and more likely to be illiterate than those who were not exposed in addition, exposed women were less likely to be primiparous.


The prevalence of exposure of Saudi pregnant women to SHS is high at 31% and it is associated with reduced birth weight, and shorter length of the newborn.

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