Maternal personality traits associated with patterns of prenatal smoking and exposure: Implications for etiologic and prevention research

Suena H. Massey, David Reiss, Jenae M. Neiderhiser, Leslie D. Leve, Daniel S. Shaw, Jody M. Ganiban

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Background: Little is known about the characteristics of women who smoke during pregnancy beyond demographic factors. We examined the relationship between novelty seeking, harm avoidance, and self-directedness and (a) abstinence from smoking during pregnancy and (b) average daily cigarette consumption during pregnancy. Methods: Participants were 826 birth mothers who made adoption placements in the Early Growth and Development Study and completed the Temperament and Character Inventory - Short Form, and interview-based smoking assessments 3-6 months postpartum. Never smokers (n = 199), pregnancy abstainers ( n = 277), pregnancy light smokers (n = 184), and pregnancy heavy smokers (n = 166) were compared on personality dimensions and smoking-related processes. Using regression analyses we examined relationships between personality and (a) abstinence versus smoking during pregnancy; and (b) average daily cigarette consumption among lifetime smokers, controlling for nicotine dependence, birth father substance dependence, maternal antisocial behavior, and depressive symptoms during pregnancy. Results: Smokers with higher self-directedness and lower harm avoidance were more likely to abstain during pregnancy [O.R. 1.380; 95% C.I. (1.065-1.787); B(SE) = .322(.132); p = .015] and [O.R. .713; 95% C.I. (.543-.935); B(SE) = -.339(.138); p = .014], respectively. Novelty seeking differentiated never smokers from lifetime smokers (t = - 3.487; p = .001), but was not significant in multivariate models. Lifetime smokers who abstained during pregnancy reported fewer depressive symptoms relative to never smokers. Conclusions: Personality dimensions associated with abstinence from smoking and cigarettes per day during pregnancy may be important to consider in etiologic and intervention research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)48-54
Number of pages7
JournalNeurotoxicology and Teratology
StatePublished - Jan 1 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Toxicology
  • Developmental Neuroscience
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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