Get access

Substance use among pregnant women in the context of previous reproductive loss and desire for current pregnancy


Correspondence should be addressed to Priscilla Coleman, Human Development and Family Studies, 16F Family and Consumer Sciences Building, Bowling Green State University, Bowling Green, OH 43403, USA (e-mail:


Objective. The primary objectives of this study were to explore maternal history of perinatal loss and pregnancy wantedness as correlates of substance use during pregnancy.

Method. The research design involved interviewing women who gave birth in Washington DC hospitals during 1992. Interview data included pregnancy history (prior births, induced abortions, miscarriages, and stillbirths), desire for the pregnancy (wanted, not wanted, mistimed), socio-demographic information, timing of onset of prenatal care, and substance use (cigarettes, alcohol, and drugs) during pregnancy.

Results. A history of induced abortion was associated with elevated risk for maternal substance use of various forms; whereas other forms of perinatal loss (miscarriage and stillbirth) were not related to substance use. Unwanted pregnancy was associated with cigarette smoking during pregnancy, but not with any other forms of substance use.

Conclusions. Reproductive history information may offer insight to professionals pertaining to the likelihood of women using substances in a later pregnancy.