Tobacco, alcohol, and caffeine use and cessation in early pregnancy

Phyllis L. Pirie, Harry A Lando, Susan J. Curry, Colleen M. McBride, Louis C. Grothaus

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

63 Scopus citations


Objectives: Little is known about what happens when individuals attempt to make multiple behavior changes simultaneously. Pregnant women in particular are often in the position of needing to change several behaviors at once, including giving up more than one pleasurable substance. We investigated the success of pregnant women in spontaneously quitting tobacco, alcohol, or caffeine, alone or in combination. Methods: Pregnant women (n = 7489) were identified in the practices of large health maintenance organizations in Seattle and Minneapolis and were interviewed by telephone. Analyses examined the patterns of using and quitting more than one substance, and the extent to which using more than one substance predicts ability to quit other substances. Results: Use of the three substances tended to cluster within individuals. Users of multiple substances were less likely to quit each substance than users of single substances. However, in the subgroup of multiple substance users who had quit one substance, having quit a second substance was more, rather than less, common. In multivariate analyses predicting quitting, demographic variables, and not having been pregnant previously were significant predictors of quitting each substance; being a nonsmoker predicted quitting alcohol, and being a nonsmoker and nondrinker predicted quitting caffeine. Conclusions: The reasons for difficulty in quitting more than one substance are unknown but may include the difficulty of formulating appropriate behavioral strategies or less concern about healthy behavior in pregnancy. Many women in the study successfully quit using two substances, however, and counseling should focus on achieving that outcome.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)54-61
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican journal of preventive medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2000

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was supported in part by National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute grant HL48121.


  • Alcohol
  • Caffeine
  • Life change
  • Pregnancy
  • Risk behavior
  • Smoking


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