Impact of nicotine and maternal BMI on fetal birth weight

Data from 110.047 singleton pregnancies, achieved from the German Perinatal Survey in Schleswig-Holstein and registered between 2010 and 2017 were analyzed in August 2018 concerning maternal BMI and smoking. The BMI was taken from the maternity log. Information concerning the smoking status were self-reported and further subdivided into the following four categories: a) non-smokers; b) 1-7 cigarettes/day; c) 8-14 cigarettes/ day; and d) ≥ 15 cigarettes/ day. Furthermore, we classified women by their BMI into underweight, normal weight, overweight and obese. Comparisons between non-smokers and the respective smoking group, and their relationship with maternal BMI were performed by the t-test (birth weight). A number of 97.092 women (88.2%) were non-smokers and 12.955 (11.8%) were smokers. Furthermore 10.3% of women of normal weight smoked during pregnancy, but both high and low BMI were associated with a high prevalence of smoking. The proportion of smokers was highest (18.1%) among underweight women (BMI ≤ 18.5 kg/m2). A large number of smokers (15.5%) were registered in the obesity group (BMI ≥ 30 kg/m2). Mean birth weight (≥ 37 + 0 gestational age) increased with increasing maternal BMI, and was reduced by smoking for every BMI category. The differences between smokers and non-smokers were always highly significant (p < 0.001). Mean birth weight varied between 2995 g in underweight frequent smokers and 3607 g in obese non-smokers.


Both maternal BMI and smoking during pregnancy influences the birth weight and therefore pregnancy outcome. Smoking during pregnancy was significantly associated with low birth weight. Pregnant women should be advised to cease or at least reduce smoking in order to improve the birth weight of the newborn and to minimize child morbidities.


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