Open Access Open Badges Research article

Effects of secondhand smoke on the birth weight of term infants and the demographic profile of Saudi exposed women

Hayfaa A Wahabi1*, Rasmieh A Alzeidan1, Amel A Fayed34, Ahmed Mandil2, Ghadeer Al-Shaikh5 and Samia A Esmaeil1

Author affiliations

1 Sheikh Bahamdan Research Chair of Evidence-based Healthcare and Knowledge translation, College of Medicine, King Saud University, P.O Box 102799, Riyadh, 11685, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

2 Department of Family and Community Medicine, College of Medicine, King Saud University, Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

3 King Saud Ben Abdul Aziz University for Health Sciences, Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

4 High Institute of Public Health Alexandria University, Alexandria, Egypt

5 Obstetrics and Gynecology Department, College of Medicine, King Khalid University Hospital, Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

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Citation and License

BMC Public Health 2013, 13:341  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-13-341

Published: 15 April 2013



Maternal exposure to tobacco smoke during pregnancy is associated with detrimental effects on the mother and the fetus including; impaired fetal growth, low birth weight and preterm delivery. In utero exposure to tobacco is implicated in the etiology of many adults’ diseases including obesity, diabetes and hypertension.

The objectives of this study were to evaluate the effects of Secondhand Tobacco Smoke (SHS) exposure on newborns’ anthropometric measurements and to compare the demographic profile of the women exposed to SHS to those who were not.


This is a retrospective cohort study investigating the effects of SHS during pregnancy on newborns’ anthropometry. Women who self-reported SHS exposure were compared with those not exposed. The primary outcomes were birth weight, newborn length and head circumference. Univariate analysis and multivariate regression analysis were performed. Adjusted differences with 95% confidence intervals were calculated.


Mothers exposed to SHS constituted 31% of the cohort. The mean birth weight of infants of exposed mothers was significantly lower by 35 g, 95% CI: 2–68 g, (P = 0.037) and the mean length was shorter by 0.261 cm, 95% CI 0.058-0.464 cm, (P = 0.012) compared to the infants of unexposed mothers. Women exposed to SHS, were younger, of lower parity and more likely to be illiterate than those who were not exposed in addition, exposed women were less likely to be primiparous.


The prevalence of exposure of Saudi pregnant women to SHS is high at 31% and it is associated with reduced birth weight, and shorter length of the newborn.

Second hand smoke; Newborn anthropometry; Saudi Arabia