Outcomes of pregnancy in women using illegal drugs and in women who smoke cigarettes

Mairead Eileen Black, Sohinee Bhattacharya, Tara Elizabeth Fairley, Doris Campbell, Ashalatha Shetty

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


To compare obstetric outcomes in women using illegal drugs with women who smoke cigarettes.

Retrospective cohort study.

Aberdeen, UK.

All deliveries in Aberdeen in women using illegal drugs and women who smoked cigarettes during 1997–2007.

Material and methods
The women who used illegal drugs were identified from a database of affected pregnant women in Aberdeen. The Aberdeen Maternity and Neonatal Databank was used to identify women who smoke cigarettes and to obtain pregnancy outcome information. Sociodemographic characteristics, maternal and perinatal outcomes were compared using chi-squared test, independent sample t-test and logistic regression analysis.

Main outcome measures
Preterm delivery, low birthweight (standardized birthweight score <-2) and admission to the neonatal unit.

Of the 561 illegal drug users, 96% were also cigarette smokers. Compared with women who smoke cigarettes with no reported illegal drug use, they were significantly more likely to have a preterm delivery [adjusted odds ratio (aOR) 1.6 (95% confidence interval (CI) 1.3–2.1)], low birthweight baby [aOR 1.9 (95%CI 1.4–2.6)], baby admitted to the neonatal unit [aOR 13.3 (95%CI 10.9–16.3)], deep vein thrombosis [aOR (95%CI 8.8–50.8)] and antepartum hemorrhage [aOR (95%CI 1.2–2.1)]. They were less likely to be at the extremes of age, or to develop pregnancy-induced hypertension [aOR 0.3 (95%CI 0.2–0.4)].

Illegal drug use in pregnancy appears to increase the risk of adverse outcomes, over and above that related to cigarette smoking, but appears to be associated with lower prevalence of gestational hypertension.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)47-52
Number of pages6
JournalActa Obstetricia et Gynecologica Scandinavica
Issue number1
Early online date14 Jan 2013
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2013


  • high-risk pregnancy
  • neonatology
  • smoking
  • illegal drug use
  • substance-misuse
  • pregnancy outcomes


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