Environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) exposure during pregnancy contributes to adverse infant health outcomes. Limited previous research has focused on identifying correlates of ETS avoidance. This study sought to identify proximal and more distal correlates of ETS avoidance early in pregnancy among African-American women.
From a sample of low-income, black women (n=1044) recruited in six urban, prenatal care clinics (July 2001–October 2003), cotinine-confirmed nonsmokers with partners, household/family members, or friends who smoked (n=450) were identified and divided into two groups: any past-7-day ETS exposure and cotinine-confirmed ETS avoidance. Bivariate and multivariate logistic regression analyses identified factors associated with ETS avoidance. Data were initially analyzed in 2004. Final models were reviewed and revised in 2007 and 2008.
Twenty-seven percent of pregnant nonsmokers were confirmed as ETS avoiders. In multivariate logistic regression analysis, the odds of ETS avoidance were increased among women who reported household smoking bans (OR=2.96; 95% CI=1.83, 4.77; p<0.0001), that the father wanted the baby (OR=2.70; CI=1.26, 5.76; p=0.01), and that no/few family members/friends smoked (OR=3.15; 95% CI=1.58, 6.29; p<0.001). The odds were decreased among women who had a current partner (OR= 0.42; 95% CI=0.23, 0.76; p<0.01), reported any intimate partner violence during pregnancy (OR= 0.43; 95% CI=0.19, 0.95; p<0.05), and reported little social support to prevent ETS exposure (OR= 0.50; 95% CI=0.30, 0.85; p=0.01). Parity, emotional coping strategies, substance use during pregnancy, partner/household member smoking status, and self-confidence in avoiding ETS were significant in bivariate, but not multivariate analyses.
Social contextual factors were the strongest determinants of ETS avoidance during pregnancy. Results highlight the importance of prenatal screening to identify pregnant nonsmokers at risk, encouraging household smoking bans, gaining support from significant others, and fully understanding the interpersonal context of a woman’s pregnancy before providing behavioral counseling and advice to prevent ETS exposure.