Tobacco exposure during pregnancy is a major factor of morbidity and mortality for both the pregnant woman and the fetus. Several studies in the past have detected and quantified tobacco smoke biomarkers in infant meconium samples. Aim of this study was to measure prenatal exposure to tobacco smoke by detecting nicotine and cotinine in meconium and to try to evaluate the extent of exposure to smoke through passive smoking as well as the relationship between tobacco biomarker meconium concentrations and neonatal outcomes. Tobacco smoke biomarkers nicotine and cotinine were detected and quantitated in meconium from tobacco exposed and non-exposed Greek neonates using liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry. The study included 45 neonates from active, passive and non-smoking women during pregnancy. The results showed significant values of nicotine and cotinine concentration in neonates from both active and passive smokers which reached 125ngg-1for nicotine and 98.5ngg-1for cotinine and varied according to the type and level of exposure. In general nicotine and cotinine concentrations correlated with the degree of active smoking by the mother. Similarly, nicotine and cotinine were measured in the meconium of infants of passive smokers at concentrations comparable to those of infants whose mothers were moderate smokers. Our findings show that exposure of the fetus to tobacco biomarkers can be substantial even in passive maternal smoking and there is a statistically significant negative correlation between nicotine or cotinine concentrations in meconium and birth weight or gestational age at birth.
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