Smoking in urban pregnant women in South Africa
Aim. To estimate the exposure to active and passive smoking of pregnant women in South Africa and to determine their knowledge and behaviour with regard to smoking during pregnancy.
Methods. A questionnaire was completed by pregnant women attending antenatal services in four South African cities. Questions were asked about smoking status, beliefs on the health effects of tobacco smoke during pregnancy exposure to passive smoking and behavioural changes with regard to smoking during pregnancy. Women from different ethnic groups and social classes participated.
Results. The study population was 394 pregnant women. Of these 42% were black, 29% coloured and 10% Indian women, who used public antenatal services, and 19% were pregnant women (ethnicity unspecified) who attended private obstetric practices. Of the coloured women, 47% smoked; for the black and Indian women and those who attended a private practice, the smoking rates were 4%, 3% and 28%, respectively. Approximately 90% of the pregnant women knew it was unhealthy to smoke during pregnancy. Most women who smoked stopped or reduced tobacco use during their pregnancy. Of the pregnant women, 70% lived with at least one smoker in the house.
Conclusions. Few black and Indian pregnant women in South Africa smoke, while coloured pregnant women smoke heavily. QUitting programmes should be targeted at them when they attend antenatal services. Pregnant women and their families should be alerted to the impact of environmental tobacco smoke, since so many are passive smokers during pregnancy.