Effect of Prenatal Smoke Exposure on Birth Weight: The Moderating Role of Maternal Depressive Symptoms.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

INTRODUCTION: Both prenatal smoke exposure and depression have been linked to lower birth weight, a risk factor for morbidity and mortality. Few studies have looked at the interaction between these risk factors and none have used a biomarker to objectively measure prenatal smoke exposure. The current study sought to examine independent and interactive effects of cotinine and depression on birth weight. The effect of race was also explored. METHOD: Data were drawn from a prospective study of pregnant women (N = 568) in the southeastern United States. Maternal demographic, health information, depressive symptoms, and birth data were collected via self-report and medical record abstraction. Prenatal blood samples were assayed for cotinine. RESULTS: Controlling for covariates, multiple regression analyses indicated that both cotinine and depressive symptoms independently predicted lower birth weight and a significant interaction was also observed. Upon probing the interaction, a negative association between cotinine levels and birth weight was found in the context of higher depression but not lower depression scores. Similarly, logistic regression analyses revealed a significant interaction between cotinine and depression, such that cotinine predicted having a baby less than 2500 g among women who fell above the indicated cutoff score. African American women had the highest levels of cotinine and lowest weight babies; however, race was not a significant moderator. CONCLUSIONS: Results suggest prenatal smoke exposure has a greater negative effect on birth weight for women endorsing co-occurring depressive symptoms. Findings can inform targeted interventions and assist medical providers with identifying women at increased risk for poor perinatal outcomes. IMPLICATIONS: Despite the common occurrence of smoking during pregnancy and prenatal depression, the interaction between these risk factors on birth weight has rarely been examined. Further, the extant results have been mixed, likely due in part to difficulties in measurement. The current study was the first to use prenatal cotinine to assess bias-free, continuous levels of prenatal smoke exposure. Results indicate that prenatal cotinine was a significant predictor of birth weight only in the context of maternal depressive symptoms. These findings have important implications for mitigating negative perinatal outcomes for pregnant women and their children.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Schechter, J; Do, EK; Zhang, JJ; Hoyo, C; Murphy, SK; Kollins, SH; Fuemmeler, B

Published Date

  • January 27, 2020

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 22 / 1

Start / End Page

  • 40 - 47

PubMed ID

  • 30590728

Pubmed Central ID

  • PMC7297019

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1469-994X

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1093/ntr/nty267


  • eng

Conference Location

  • England