The risk of low birth weight associated with vaginal douching

Kevin Fiscella, Peter Franks, Juliette S. Kendrick, F. Carol Bruce

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Scopus citations


Objective: To examine the association between vaginal douching and low birth weight (LBW) after accounting for known risk factors. Methods: We used cross-sectional interview data from the 1988 National Survey of Family Growth, a nationally representative sample of 4665 women of child-bearing age and 11,553 singleton live births. We compared the risk of LBW among women who reported they douched regularly with the risk among women who did not douche, after controlling for potential confounders including maternal age, race, household income, marital status, total number of pregnancies, smoking, alcohol use, drug use during the pregnancy, year of birth of each infant, geographic region, and self-reported history of pelvic inflammatory disease. Results: In multivariate analysis, regular douching was associated with an increased risk of LBW (adjusted odds ratio [OR], 1.29; 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.06, 1.57). Frequency of douching and LBW exhibited a dose- response. The adjusted OR for the association between daily douching and LBW was 2.49 (95% CI 1.23, 5.01) compared with an adjusted OR of 1.13 (95% CI 0.83, 1.55) for the association between monthly douching and LBW. There was no racial difference in the risk of LBW associated with douching. Conclusion: These preliminary data suggest an association between douching and LBW risk. If these findings are replicated in future studies, douching may represent a major preventable risk factor for LBW.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)913-917
Number of pages5
JournalObstetrics and Gynecology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1998
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Obstetrics and Gynecology


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