To determine: 1. the prevalence of regular smoking in the latter half of pregnancy in a sample of Canadian prenatal patients; 2. the psycho-social and demographic characteristics that differentiate smoking from nonsmoking patients; 3. the characteristics that differentiate prenatal patients who smoke more than 10 cigarettes per day from those who smoke 1 to 10 cigarettes per day; and 4. the psychiatric morbidities or psychological attitudes associated with smoking in pregnancy.
Consecutive consenting women 20 or more weeks pregnant were given, at a prenatal clinic, the General Health Questionnaire (GHQ), the Fetal Health Locus of Control (FHLC), and a study questionnaire to complete.
Five-hundred and forty-five women completed the questionnaires. Eighty-nine (16.3%) women reported regular daily cigarette smoking in the second half of pregnancy, while 43 (7.9%) smoked more than 10 cigarettes per day. Women who smoked were more likely than nonsmokers to be under 21, born in Canada, have only elementary education, be unemployed and unmarried, eat unhealthy diets, drink alcohol, use nonprescription and illicit drugs, have unplanned pregnancies, histories of emotional and physical problems, and have suffered physical abuse before and during pregnancy. Smokers were more likely than nonsmokers to meet case status on the GHQ and on the FHLC to believe “chance” and less likely to believe that “internal control” or “powerful others” affected the health of their fetuses. “Social disorganization”, “health risks”, and “poor health” factors accounted for 83.1% of the total variance.
Women who smoke in pregnancy have a higher rate than nonsmokers of other health risk behaviours, social disadvantage, and emotional disturbance. Psychiatrists can play an important role in identifying and treating emotional and psychiatric morbidity in women of reproductive age to facilitate a reduction in smoking rates in this high-risk population.