Spontaneous cessation of smoking and alcohol use among low-income pregnant women

UMMS Affiliation

Department of Medicine, Division of Preventive and Behavioral Medicine

Publication Date


Document Type



Adult; Alcohol Drinking; Chi-Square Distribution; Female; Humans; Multivariate Analysis; *Poverty; Pregnancy; Pregnancy Complications; Prenatal Care; Prevalence; Risk Factors; *Risk Reduction Behavior; Smoking; *Smoking Cessation; *Temperance; United States


Behavioral Disciplines and Activities | Behavior and Behavior Mechanisms | Community Health and Preventive Medicine | Preventive Medicine | Women's Health


BACKGROUND: Despite the strong evidence of harmful effects, tobacco and alcohol use during pregnancy continue to be major public health challenges. Some women, however, do stop spontaneously when they learn of their pregnancy. No study has investigated spontaneous cessation of both behaviors in a low-income predominantly unmarried U.S. population.

OBJECTIVE: To describe the prevalence of spontaneous cessation of cigarette and alcohol use alone and in combination and associated factors among low-income pregnant women.

METHODS: Subjects (N=601) were currently smoking or smoking when they became pregnant and participating in Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) programs in the greater Boston, Massachusetts, area. Baseline interviews assessed the factors being studied and the spontaneous cessation of cigarette and alcohol use with pregnancy. Saliva cotinine verified self-reported smoking status.

RESULTS: Spontaneous cessation of smoking and alcohol use was reported by 28% and 80% of the women, respectively; 25% spontaneously quit both, and 15% stopped neither. Multivariable analyses indicated that smoking cessation was less likely in women who had previous births, had a husband or partner who smoked, were born in the United States, were black (non-Hispanic, non-Portuguese), had less than a high school education, were highly addicted, reported lower perceived risk to the fetus, and reported "too many other problems in life to stop." Hispanic ethnicity, younger age, and more social support to quit smoking were related to spontaneous alcohol abstinence.

CONCLUSIONS: Targeted multiple strategies, including those aimed at increasing participation of partners, are needed for low-income pregnant smokers.


Am J Prev Med. 2002 Oct;23(3):150-9.

Journal/Book/Conference Title

American journal of preventive medicine

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Link to article in PubMed

PubMed ID