Biological matrices for the evaluation of environmental tobacco exposure during prenatal life and childhood

Esther Papaseit, Heura Llaquet, Simona Pichini, Xavier Joya, Oriol Vall, Óscar García-Algar

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleResearchpeer-review


Background. Nicotine and its major metabolites, cotinine and trans-3-hydroxycotinine, have been used as biomarkers for determination of environmental tobacco exposure during childhood in conventional and non-conventional biological matrices. The presence of these substances in matrices such as amniotic fluid, meconium, and fetal hair can be explained by prenatal exposure to environmental tobacco smoke (ETS). Objectives. The determination of nicotine and its metabolites in cord blood, neonatal urine, and maternal milk can be used to detect exposure to ETS during the period immediately before and after birth. Measurement of cotinine levels in blood and urine, and of cotinine and nicotine in hair may allow for the assessment of acute and chronic exposure, respectively. However, assessment of nicotine in teeth has been proposed as a promising, non-invasive method for the determination and monitoring of cumulative exposure to ETS during childhood. Results and Conclusions. This paper reviews the usefulness of measuring nicotine and its metabolites in different fetal and childhood biological matrices, considering its non-invasive nature, the window for detection, and the clinical application in pediatrics.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)12-17
JournalPediatria Catalana
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2010


  • Biological matrices
  • Biomarkers
  • Childhood
  • Environmental tobacco smoke exposure
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal


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