Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry

, Volume 396, Issue 1, pp 379–399 | Cite as

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

  • Heura Llaquet
  • Simona Pichini
  • Xavier Joya
  • Esther Papaseit
  • Oriol Vall
  • Julia Klein
  • Oscar Garcia-AlgarEmail author


The measurement of nicotine and its major metabolites cotinine and trans-3´-hydroxicotinine together with other minor metabolites (e.g., cotinine N-oxide, cotinine, and trans-3´-hydroxicotinine glucuronides) in conventional and nonconventional biological matrices has been used as a biomarker to assess the exposure to environmental tobacco smoke during childhood. The determination of these substances in matrices such as amniotic fluid, meconium, and fetal hair accounts for prenatal exposure to cigarette smoking at different stages of pregnancy. Nicotine and its metabolites in cord blood, neonatal urine, and breast milk are useful for determining acute exposure to drugs of abuse in the period immediately before and after delivery. Cotinine measurement in children’s blood and urine and nicotine and cotinine measurements in children’s hair constitute objective indexes of acute and chronic exposure during infancy, respectively. However, for monitoring and categorizing cumulative exposure to environmental tobacco smoke during the entire childhood, including the prenatal period, the assessment of nicotine in teeth has been proposed as a promising noninvasive tool. This article reviews the usefulness of measurement of nicotine and its metabolites in different fetal and pediatric biological matrices in light of noninvasive collection, time window of exposure detection, and finally clinical application in pediatrics.


Biological matrices Environmental tobacco smoke Prenatal Childhood 



atmospheric pressure chemical ionization


environmental tobacco smoke


gas chromatography


high-performance liquid chromatography


liquid chromatography


mass spectrometry


tandem mass spectrometry


nitrogen—phosphorus detection


persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn




solid-phase extraction


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Heura Llaquet
    • 1
    • 2
  • Simona Pichini
    • 3
  • Xavier Joya
    • 1
    • 2
  • Esther Papaseit
    • 1
    • 2
  • Oriol Vall
    • 1
    • 2
  • Julia Klein
    • 4
  • Oscar Garcia-Algar
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  1. 1.Unitat de Recerca Infancia i Entorn, IMIM-Hospital del MarBarcelonaSpain
  2. 2.Departament de PediatriaUniversitat Autònoma BarcelonaBarcelonaSpain
  3. 3.Department of Therapeutic Research and Medicines EvaluationIstituto Superiore di SanitàRomeItaly
  4. 4.Drug Testing ConsultantsTorontoCanada

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