Publication Date



Adolescent girls are more likely than women of other ages to smoke tobacco or drink alcohol during pregnancy. The health impacts of smoking and drinking for girls and the interconnections between alcohol and tobacco use with adolescent pregnancy underscore the urgent need for integrated approaches to prevent and reduce alcohol and tobacco use among pregnant girls/young women. This article reports on the results of a scoping review of the literature focused on adolescents’ use of tobacco and alcohol during pregnancy and postpartum. A search of CINAHL, Medline, Social Science Index and Web of Science identified 40 articles published in the two decades between 1990 and 2012 that met our inclusion criteria related to this age group, pregnancy/motherhood status, and use of both alcohol and tobacco. The review points to compelling gaps in our knowledge and our responsiveness to adolescents aged 19 and under who use alcohol and tobacco during pregnancy and the postpartum period. Research has been primarily descriptive, with separate, parallel streams of investigation to identify trends and predictors of alcohol and tobacco use, prior to, during and following pregnancy. There is a marked lack of effective interventions described in the literature that are designed to prevent or reduce alcohol and tobacco use during pregnancy among adolescent girls; and there are few examples of gender-informed prevention or treatment programmes for this population. Research is needed on interventions that attend to the context of adolescent girls’ substance use as well as their preferences and developmental needs for support that encourage sustained behaviour change throughout pregnancy and the postpartum period and that effectively address the influence of partners and friends on use.

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Journal Article

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