Postpartum smoking behaviors and immune response in mothers of term and preterm infants

Susan Gennaro, Patricia Dunphy, Maureen Dowd, William Fehder, Steven D. Douglas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Infants exposed to secondhand smoke, especially preterm infants with a very low birth weight (VLBW), have an increased risk for developing health problems. Smoking has been associated with numerous health problems in mothers and may reduce immune functioning as well. The purposes of this study were to examine smoking in postpartum mothers of term and preterm infants and to examine the relationship between smoking and immune status. Peripheral blood was drawn on 142 women at four data-collection points and tested for cotinine, immune cell phenotypes, and immune functioning. Overall, 39% of the participants smoked in the postpartum period, but 49% of mothers who delivered preterm infants smoked compared to only 28% of mothers who delivered term infants. There was no difference in cotinine levels between the smokers in both groups of postpartum mothers, nor was smoking related to immune phenotypes or immune function. Given the documented health risks to the mother and infant and the significant number of women who continue to smoke in the postpartum period, it is imperative that health care providers continue to assess smoking status and provide smoking-cessation counseling at every encounter.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)9-17
Number of pages9
JournalResearch in Nursing and Health
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2001
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Nursing(all)


  • Immune response
  • Postpartum
  • Smoking behaviors

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