Fetal exposure to carcinogens with tobacco use in pregnancy: Phase 1 MAW study findings

Christie A. Flanagan, Kathryn R. Koller, Abbie W. Wolfe, Timothy K. Thomas, Neal L. Benowitz, Caroline C. Renner, Christine Hughes, Dorothy K. Hatsukami, Carrie Bronars, Neil J. Murphy, Gretchen Day, Paul A. Decker, Christi A. Patten

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Introduction: The high prevalence of smoking and smokeless tobacco (ST) use during pregnancy in Alaska Native (AN) women is concerning due to the detrimental effects of these products to the mother and the developing fetus. We sought to correlate maternal cotinine levels with fetal exposure to a tobacco-specific carcinogen to incorporate in a biomarker feedback intervention to motivate tobacco cessation during pregnancy. Methods: Demographic and tobacco use data were collected from a convenience sample of pregnant AN smokers, ST users, and non-users. Maternal and neonatal urine were collected at delivery. Maternal urine cotinine and neonatal urine total 4-(methylnitrosamino)-1-(3-pyridyl)-1-butanol (NNAL, a tobacco-specific carcinogen) levels in smokers and ST users were analyzed and their correlations determined by Spearman correlation coefficients. Results: During 2012-2014, we enrolled 64 non-users, 54 smokers, and 30 ST (20 homemade iqmik; 10 commercial ST) users (n = 148). Analyses of paired maternal-infant urine samples obtained for 36 smokers demonstrated a moderate to strong correlation (r = 0.73, P < .001) between maternal cotinine and infant NNAL levels. The correlation was not significant for 25 iqmik users (r = 0.36, P = .17) or 9 commercial ST users (r = 0.60, P = .09). No analysis was conducted for 55 non-users with cotinine and NNAL levels < limits of quantification. Conclusions: There is a moderate to strong correlation between maternal smoking and fetal exposure to the tobacco-specific carcinogen NNAL. Implications: The correlation between maternal smoking and fetal carcinogen exposure may provide an education tool to help motivate smoking cessation among pregnant AN women. Further investigation is warranted to determine correlations between maternal commercial ST and iqmik use and neonatal NNAL.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2162-2168
Number of pages7
JournalNicotine and Tobacco Research
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 1 2016

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Publisher Copyright:
© The Author 2016. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco. All rights reserved.


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