Does religiosity affect health risk behaviors in pregnant and postpartum women? Academic Article uri icon


  • OBJECTIVES: We examined the association between religious involvement and health risk behaviors such as smoking, drinking, marijuana use, and having multiple sex partners among a multiethnic sample of pregnant and postpartum women. METHODS: Using data from the National Survey of Family Growth, we estimated multivariate logistic regression models to determine the association between various aspects of religious involvement (e.g., attendance, salience, and denomination) and certain behaviors known to be risky for pregnant women and their offspring. RESULTS: Frequent (more than once a week) and regular (once a week) attenders at religious services had 80% and 60% (respectively) lower odds of drinking alcohol compared to women who attended less than once a week. Similar patterns surfaced with regard to smoking tobacco with the odds of smoking roughly 85% lower (OR = 0.146, P < 0.001) among frequent attenders, and nearly 65% lower among regular attenders (OR = 0.369, P < 0.001). For smoking marijuana, religious attendance again emerges as a strong predictor. The odds of marijuana smoking are nearly 75% lower for women who attend services frequently (OR = 0.260, P < 0.05) and more than 65% lower for those who attend regularly (OR = 0.343, P < 0.01), as compared with their counterparts who attend services less often. CONCLUSIONS: Religious attendance emerged as an important correlate of less-risky health behaviors among this nationwide sample of pregnant and postpartum women. Future research should include an examination of the links between religious involvement and other important lifestyle factors that may influence maternal and child health.

published proceedings

  • Matern Child Health J

author list (cited authors)

  • Page, R. L., Ellison, C. G., & Lee, J.

citation count

  • 46

complete list of authors

  • Page, Robin L||Ellison, Christopher G||Lee, Jinwoo

publication date

  • September 2009