J Womens Health (Larchmt) 2017 06 21;26(6):662-669. Epub 2017 Feb 21.
2 Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania , Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Introduction: Increased prevalence of nicotine dependence among individuals suffering from posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is well established. However, there are limited studies on the prevalence of smoking during pregnancy in relation to prepregnancy history of trauma exposures and active PTSD symptoms during pregnancy. Prenatal smoking has been implicated in a host of negative outcomes for mother and baby. Given maternal and fetal risk, it is critical to define predictors of continued cigarette smoking during pregnancy.
Methods: Pregnant women from an urban perinatal clinic completed an anonymous survey of trauma history using a modified Traumatic Life Events Questionnaire (TLEQ), PTSD symptoms using the PTSD Symptom Checklist-Civilian Version (PCL-C) and current and past smoking behavior. Those who smoked any number of cigarettes per day after pregnancy confirmation were considered to be "pregnant smokers."
Results: Of 218 women who completed the survey, 34 (15.6%) reported smoking cigarettes after confirmation of pregnancy. In unadjusted models, trauma exposure that resulted in fear, helplessness, or horror (FHH), as well as current PTSD symptom severity and probable PTSD diagnosis showed statistical significance as predictors of smoking during pregnancy. After adjusting for age only, PTSD symptoms retained their significant association with smoking during pregnancy. When history of smoking at least five cigarettes per day was added to our models, none of the associations remained significant.
Conclusions: These findings emphasize the importance of the behavioral response to past traumatic exposures in influencing cigarette smoking behavior before pregnancy. Given such behaviors enhance risk for continued tobacco use during pregnancy, a trauma-informed approach to smoking cessation in preconception care may ultimately reduce the likelihood of smoking during pregnancy and requires further study.