Tobacco use and secondhand smoke exposure during pregnancy: An investigative survey of women in 9 developing nations

Document Type



Community Health Sciences


Objectives: We examined pregnant women's use of cigarettes and other tobacco products and the exposure of pregnant women and their young children to secondhand smoke (SHS) in 9 nations in Latin America, Asia, and Africa. Methods: Face-to-face surveys were administered to 7961 pregnant women (more than 700 per site) between October 2004 and September 2005. Results: At all Latin American sites, pregnant women commonly reported that they had ever tried cigarette smoking (range: 78.3% [Uruguay] to 35.0% [Guatemala]). The highest levels of current smoking were found in Uruguay (18.3%), Argentina (10.3%), and Brazil (6.1%). Experimentation with smokeless tobacco occurred in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and India, one third of all respondents in Orissa, India, were current smokeless tobacco users. SHS exposure was common: between 91.6% (Pakistan) and 17.1% (Democratic Republic of the Congo) of pregnant women reported that smoking was permitted in their home. Conclusions: Pregnant women's tobacco use and SHS exposure are current or emerging problems in several low- and middle-income nations, jeopardizing ongoing efforts to improve maternal and child health.


American Journal of Public Health