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JAMA. 1989 Jan 6;261(1):70-4.

Comparing the prevalence of smoking in pregnant and nonpregnant women, 1985 to 1986.

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Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control, Atlanta, GA 30333.


The 1990 health objectives for the nation state that pregnant women should be only half as likely to smoke as nonpregnant women. To assess progress toward meeting this objective, we used cross-sectional data from the 26 states in the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System in 1985 and 1986. We compared the prevalence of self-reported smoking among pregnant (N = 836) and nonpregnant (N = 18,025) women aged 18 to 45 years. Overall, pregnant women were 70% as likely to be current smokers as nonpregnant women (prevalence ratio, 0.7; 95% confidence interval, 0.6 to 0.8), while blacks showed the largest pregnancy-associated reduction in the prevalence of smoking (prevalence ratio, 0.5; 95% confidence interval, 0.3 to 0.9). Most of the difference in smoking prevalence occurred not because pregnant women were less likely to have ever smoked, but because pregnant women were more likely to have quit smoking than nonpregnant women. However, unmarried pregnant white women were 40% more likely to smoke than their nonpregnant counterparts (prevalence ratio, 1.4; 95% confidence interval, 1.1 to 1.7). We conclude from this analysis that the 1990 health objective for smoking among pregnant women is unlikely to be achieved. Clinicians providing care to pregnant women need to pay increased attention to smoking cessation.

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