Illicit drug use among pregnant women enrolled in treatment for cigarette smoking cessation

Diann E. Gaalema, Stephen T. Higgins, Christopher S. Pepin, Sarah H. Heil, Ira M. Bernstein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Introduction: Smoking during pregnancy is the leading preventable cause of poor pregnancy outcomes in the United States. In population studies and nationwide surveys, pregnant smokers report more illicit drug use than pregnant nonsmokers. The purpose of this study was to examine the prevalence of illicit drug use among pregnant women enrolled in clinical trials for smoking cessation. Methods: Urine specimens from 115 pregnant women were tested for illicit drug use during a study intake visit (10th week of pregnancy) and during the final antepartum (FAP) smoking-status assessment (28th week of pregnancy). Participants smoked about 18 cigarettes/day prepregnancy, were generally young (<25 years), Caucasian, with a high school education and without private insurance. Results: About 34% of specimens from the intake visit and 25% of those from the FAP assessment tested positive for an illicit drug. The most common drug detected was marijuana (90% of positive specimens), followed by opioids (18%), cocaine (5%), benzodiazepines (3%), and methadone (3%). None tested positive for amphetamines. The majority of women (53%) who tested positive for an illicit substance at intake also tested positive at the FAP assessment. Conclusions: Approximately a quarter to a third of pregnant women enrolled in these smoking-cessation trials were determined to be using illicit drugs, with marijuana use being the most prevalent. Those providing smoking-cessation services to pregnant women may want to be prepared to assist with obtaining services for other drug use as well.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)987-991
Number of pages5
JournalNicotine and Tobacco Research
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2013
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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