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Sci Total Environ. 2008 Nov 15;406(1-2):331-6. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2008.07.005. Epub 2008 Sep 11.

The relationship between self-reported tobacco exposure and cotinines in urine and blood for pregnant women.

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Biostatistics Center, China Medical University, Taiwan, ROC.


To explore the relationship of self-reported exposure to tobacco smoke and the cotinine levels in the urine and blood over the follow-up period for pregnant women. Three hundred ninety-eight pregnant women undergoing prenatal care were interviewed in different trimesters at three hospitals in central Taiwan using a structured questionnaire. Based on their self-reported smoking experience, the participants were classified into three groups (25 smokers, 191 passive smokers, and 182 non-smokers) and were tracked in this study up to the time of delivery. Cotinine levels were tested for the maternal blood and urine at the end of each trimester and for the umbilical cord-blood of the newborns. All specimens were measured using a sensitive high-performance liquid chromatographic (HPLC) technique. In general, urinary cotinine levels were higher in subjects who smoked (including current- and ex-smokers) than those who never smoked. The pattern of distribution of cotinine levels among smoking/ETS exposure group in the urine sample was similar to that in the blood sample. The umbilical cord-blood cotinine levels was found to be highest in the active smoking group, followed by the ETS group exposed to ETS both at home and in the workplace. Over the course of the pregnancies, there was an increase in cotinine levels in urine and maternal blood for each of 3 exposure groups. Exposure to smoking by self-reported information in pregnant women has been found to be directly related to the levels of cotinine in the umbilical cord-blood of the fetus. Cotinine is a sensitive measure of ETS exposure, but if biochemical analysis is not available or convenient for a pregnant woman, then self-reported exposure to ETS can provide a good estimate if the information is gathered by a well-trained interviewer in a structured way.

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