Are time-trends of smoking among pregnant immigrant women in Sweden determined by cultural or socioeconomic factors?

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Background: The widening socioeconomic gap in smoking during pregnancy remains a challenge to the Swedish antenatal care services. However, the influence of cultural factors in explaining the socioeconomic differences in smoking during pregnancy is not clear among the immigrant women. The aim of this study was to investigate whether the development of smoking prevalence among pregnant immigrant women in Sweden followed the trajectory which could be expected from the stages of the global smoking epidemic model in the women's countries of origin, or not. Methods: Delivery data on pregnancies in Sweden from 1982 to 2001 was collected from the Swedish Medical Birth Registry. From a total of 2,224,469 pregnant women during this period, all immigrant pregnant women (n = 234,731) were selected to this study. A logistic regression analysis and attributable fraction were used to investigate the association between smoking during pregnancy and the socioeconomic differences among immigrant women. Results: Overall, the prevalence of smoking among pregnant immigrant women decreased from 30.3% in 1982 to 11.0% in 2001, albeit with remarkable differences between educational levels and country of origin. The greatest decline of absolute prevalence was recorded among low educated women (27,9%) and among other Nordic countries (17,9%). In relative terms, smoking inequalities increased between educational levels regardless of country of origin. The odds ratios for low educational level for women from other Nordic countries increased from 4.9 (95% CI 4.4-5.4) in 1982 to 13.4 (95% CI 11.2-16.2) in 2001, as compared to women with high education in the same group. Further, the total attributable fraction for educational difference increased from 55% in 1982 to 62% in 2001, demonstrating the strong effect of educational attainment. Conclusions: Our hypothesis that the socioeconomic time trend of smoking based on the stage of the world wide tobacco epidemic model related to country of origin of the immigrant women was not supported by our analyses. Our findings does not support a call for specific "culture sensitive" antismoking policies or interventions in Sweden or similar countries, but reinforce the existing evidence with a focus on women with a low educational level, regardless of cultural background.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Public Health, Global Health, Social Medicine and Epidemiology
Original languageEnglish
JournalBMC Public Health
Publication statusPublished - 2010
Publication categoryResearch