Hair analysis - A biological marker for passive smoking in pregnancy and childhood

J. Klein, G. Koren

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

52 Scopus citations


Passive smoking has been shown to adversely affect the health of infants and children. We used hair analysis for nicotine and its metabolite cotinine as a biological marker for exposure to smoking in these two groups. Using radioimmunoassay we measured maternal and fetal hair concentrations of nicotine and cotinine in the mother-infant pairs belonging to three different groups based on the mother's smoking habits. The three groups were: active smokers, passive smokers and nonsmokers. There was a significant correlation between maternal and neonatal hair concentration for both, nicotine and cotinine. Mothers and infants in the smoking groups, both active and passive, had significantly higher hair concentrations of both, nicotine and cotinine than in the control, nonsmoking group. In an older cohort, we compared two groups: 78 asthmatic children were compared to 86 healthy children exposed to similar degrees of passive smoking. By using objective, biological markers, our study aimed at verifying whether asthmatic children are different from nonasthmatic children in the way their bodies handle nicotine. Our results show, that, despite the fact that parents of asthmatic children tend to smoke a lower number of cigarettes per day, their children had an average twofold higher concentrations of cotinine in their hair then the control, nonasthmatic children. These studies document the importance of hair analysis as a tool for measuring exposure to cigarette smoke.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)279-282
Number of pages4
JournalHuman and Experimental Toxicology
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1999
Externally publishedYes


  • Children
  • Cotinine
  • Hair
  • Infants
  • Nicotine
  • Smoking


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