Effect measures for behavioral factors adversely affecting fetal growth

Arsenio Spinillo, Ezio Capuzzo, Gaia Piazzi, Federica Baltaro, Angela Iasci, Sabrina Nicola

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The purpose of this study was to estimate the proportion of ultrasonically diagnosed fetal growth retardation that may be attributable to potentially remediable behavioral factors (for example, cigarette smoking, alcohol use, and drug addiction). We computed multivariate odds ratios for fetal growth retardation associated with cigarette smoking and alcohol and illicit drug consumption in 350 singleton pregnancies complicated by fetal growth retardation and 700 controls. The odds ratio of fetal growth retardation among women who smoked throughout pregnancy was 2.61 (95% confidence interval, 1.38 to 4.93) compared to women who claimed to have stopped smoking by the 18th week of gestation. The summary attributable risk of fetal growth retardation associated with behavioral variables measured during the first trimester and thereafter ranged from 18 to 21%. By implication, the maximum proportion of fetal growth retardation that could theoretically be prevented by eliminating these risk factors accounts for about 1% of all births. However, allowance for the limited modifiability of preventable factors and the consistent overlap between them would probably reduce such estimate to less than 1%. We conclude that only interventions to reduce the prevalence of strong risk factors (for example, preeclampsia, sociodemographic variables) may have a substantial effect on the incidence of impaired fetal growth and subsequent infant morbidity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)119-123
Number of pages5
JournalAmerican Journal of Perinatology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 1996


  • alcohol abuse
  • cigarette smoking
  • Fetal growth retardation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Obstetrics and Gynaecology


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