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Am J Epidemiol. 1996 Nov 1;144(9):881-9.

Maternal cigarette smoking as a risk factor for placental abruption, placenta previa, and uterine bleeding in pregnancy.

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Department of Epidemiology, School of Public Health, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, USA.


The authors carried out an epidemiologic study to evaluate the role of maternal cigarette smoking as a potential risk factor for placental abruption, placenta previa, and uterine bleeding of unknown etiology in pregnancy. Data for this prospective cohort study were obtained from women seeking prenatal care at any of the two tertiary, seven regional, or 17 community hospitals in the province of Nova Scotia, Canada, between January 1, 1986, and December 31, 1993. A total of 87,184 pregnancies (among 61,667 women) were registered in the database. Women who smoked during pregnancy (33%) were compared with nonsmokers, and all women were followed until the termination of pregnancy. Placental abruption was indicated in 9.9 per 1,000 pregnancies, while placenta previa and uterine bleeding of unknown etiology were indicated in 3.6 and 58.9 per 1,000 pregnancies, respectively. Women who smoked had a twofold increase in the risk of abruption (relative risk = 2.05, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.75-2.40) in comparison with nonsmokers, while the relative risk for placenta previa was 1.36 (95% CI 1.04-1.79). However, cigarette smoking was not found to be associated with uterine bleeding of unknown etiology (relative risk = 1.01, 95% CI 0.94-1.08). There was no evidence for an increased risk of uteroplacental bleeding disorders with increasing numbers of cigarettes smoked. All analyses were adjusted for potentially confounding factors through logistic regression models based on the method of generalized estimating equations. The study confirms a positive association between cigarette smoking and placental abruption and a weak association with placenta previa but not with other uterine bleeding. The distinct pattern of results for placental abruption, placenta previa, and uterine bleeding of unknown origin suggests that these three uteroplacental bleeding disorders do not have a common etiology in relation to cigarette smoking.

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