Assessment of prenatal tobacco smoke exposure by determining nicotine and its metabolites in meconium.Hum Exp Toxicol. 2007 Jun; 26(6):535-44.HE
Meconium samples collected from 115 neonates were analysed for nicotine, cotinine and trans -3-hydroxycotinine (OH-cotinine) by means of high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) to identify prenatal smoke exposure. The self-reported maternal smoking status during pregnancy was determined by means of a questionnaire and verified by measurements in urine prior to childbirth. The total sum of nicotine and its metabolites (Sum(tot)) of the first passed meconium samples was 1560 +/- 1024 pmol/g in newborns of smoking mothers. Smoking of less than five cigarettes was clearly detected. Sum(tot) remained constant in all meconium samples passed by a neonate in succession. However, the proportion of nicotine decreased with the time of passage after birth and the OH-cotinine proportion increased, whereas cotinine hardly changed. Nicotine or its metabolites were not detectable in meconium (detection limit < 20 pmol/g), when the mothers were only exposed to environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) using the HPLC method. The hypothesis that the content of nicotine metabolites in meconium reflects long-term smoke exposure could not be confirmed in newborns whose mothers had quit smoking during the latter half of pregnancy. Determining Sum(tot) enables the intensity of continuous smoking during pregnancy to be estimated in all meconium samples passed by a newborn.