Hair Concentrations of Nicotine and Cotinine in Women and Their Newborn Infants.

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Abstract

Background

To date, no biological markers have been identified that can predict the extent of fetal exposure to the toxic constituents of cigarette smoke. A variety of xenobiotic agents have been shown to accumulate in growing hair.

Patients and Methods

We measured maternal and neonatal hair concentrations of nicotine and cotinine in 94 mother-infant pairs. Mothers who were active smokers, nonsmokers, and passive smokers and their infants were included.

Results

Mothers who were active smokers (n=36) had mean (SEM) hair concentrations of 19.2 (4.9) ng/mg for nicotine and 6.3 (4.0) ng/mg for cotinine, significantly higher than concentrations in nonsmokers (n=35) (1.2 (0.4) ng/mg for nicotine and 0.3 (0.06) ng/mg for cotinine, P<.0001). Infants of smokers had mean hair concentrations of 2.4 (0.9) ng/mg for nicotine (range, 0 to 27.3 ng/mg) and 2.8 (0.8) ng/mg for cotinine (range, 0 to 12.2 ng/mg), significantly higher than concentrations in infants of nonsmokers (0.4 (0.09) ng/mg for nicotine and 0.26 (0.04) ng/mg for cotinine, P<.01). Mothers with passive smoke exposure and their infants (n=23) had significantly higher hair concentrations of nicotine (3.2 (0.8) ng/mg for mothers and 0.28 (0.05) ng/mg for infants) and cotinine (0.9 (0.3) ng/mg for mothers and 0.6 (0.15) ng/mg for infants) than nonsmoking mothers and their infants (P<.01). There was a significant correlation between maternal and neonatal hair concentrations of nicotine (r=.49, P<.001) or cotinine (r=.85, P=.0001).

Conclusions

This is the first biochemical evidence that infants of passive smokers are at risk of measurable exposure to cigarette smoke. Hair accumulation of cigarette smoke constituents reflects long-term systemic exposure to these toxins and therefore may be well correlated with perinatal risks.

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