The Intricate Interactions between Maternal Smoking and Drinking During Pregnancy and Birthweight Z-Scores of Preterm Births

Hein J Odendaal,

Published on: 2021-03-27


Background: The extent to which smoking and drinking in a local community is associated with nutrition and Z-scores of infants from spontaneous preterm deliveries, is uncertain. Aim: To investigate associations of different levels of maternal smoking and drinking in spontaneous preterm birth with infant birthweight Z-scores.

Methods: Information, including gestational age (determined by earliest ultrasound), maternal arm circumference (measured at enrolment), smoking-drinking data (obtained up to 4 occasions), birthweight data (obtained from medical records) and birthweight Z-scores (calculated from INTERGROWTH- 21st study), collected over a period of nine years was used to compare 407 spontaneous preterm births with 3 493 spontaneous term births Analyses of variance, correlations and multiple regression were performed in STATISTICA.

Results: Women with spontaneous preterm birth, had significantly lower gravidity and smaller arm circumference when compared to women with spontaneous birth at term. Women with spontaneous preterm birth drank more and heavier during pregnancy, and more smoked. Gestational age at birth was significantly longer in heavy-smokers-heavy-drinkers compared to heavy-smokers-no-drinkers (7.1 days) and in no-smokers-heavy-drinkers when compared to no-smokers-no-drinkers (11.2 days). Birthweight was significantly lower in low-smokers-heavy-drinkers when compared to low-smokers-no-drinkers (240g) and in heavy-smokers-lowdrinkers when compared to no-smokers-low-drinkers (273g). Birthweight Z-scores were significantly lower in low-smokers-heavy-drinkers when compared to lowsmokers- low-drinkers and low-smokers-no-drinkers; and, also significantly lower in heavy-smokers-low-drinkers when compared to low-smokers-low-drinkers and no-smokers-low-drinkers.

Conclusion: Alcohol aggravates the detrimental effect of smoking on birthweight and birthweight Z-scores but seems to counteract the negative association of smoking with gestational age.

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