Effect of maternal weight status on the relationship between prenatal smoking and infant birth weight

Ruby Benjamin-Garner, The University of Texas School of Public Health


The purpose of this study was to assess the effect of maternal pre-pregnancy weight status on the relationship between prenatal smoking and infant birth weight (IBW). Prenatal cigarette smoking and maternal weight exert opposing effects on IBW; smoking decreases birth weight while maternal pre-pregnancy weight is positively correlated with birth weight. As such, mutual effect modification may be sufficiently significant to alter the independent effects of these two birth weight correlates. Finding of such an effect has implications of prenatal smoking cessation education. Perception of risk is an important determinant of smoking cessation, and reduced or low birth weight (LBW) as a smoking-associated risk predominates prenatal smoking counseling and education. In a population such as the US, where obesity is becoming epidemic, particularly among minority and low-income groups, perception of risk may be lowered should increased maternal size attenuate the effect of smoking. Previous studies have not found a significant interaction effect of prenatal smoking and maternal pre-pregnancy weight on IBW; however, use of self-reported smoking status may have biased findings. Reliability of self-reported smoking status reported in the literature is variable, with deception rates ranging from a low of 5% to as high as 16%. This study, using data from a prenatal smoking cessation project, in which smoking status was validated by saliva cotinine, was an opportunity to assess effect modification of smoking and maternal weight using biochemically determined smoking status in lieu of self report. Stratified by saliva cotinine, 151 women from a prenatal smoking cessation cohort, who were 18 years and older and had full-term, singleton births, were included in this study. The effect of smoking in terms of mean birth weight across three levels of maternal pre-pregnancy weight was assessed by general linear modeling procedures, adjusting for other known correlates of IBW. Effect modification was marginally significant, p = .104, but only with control for differential effects among racial/ethnic groups. A smaller than planned sample of nonsmokers, or women who quit smoking during the pregnancy, prohibited rejection of the null hypothesis of no difference in the effect of smoking across levels of pre-pregnancy weight.

Subject Area

Public health|Obstetrics|Gynecology|Nutrition

Recommended Citation

Benjamin-Garner, Ruby, "Effect of maternal weight status on the relationship between prenatal smoking and infant birth weight" (2005). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI3178684.