Environmental tobacco smoke exposure during pregnancy and child neurodevelopment

Kinga Polanska, Anna Krol, Dorota Merecz-Kot, Danuta Ligocka, Karolina Mikolajewska, Fiorino Mirabella, Flavia Chiarotti, Gemma Calamandrei, Wojciech Hanke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The developing fetus is especially vulnerable to environmental toxicants, including tobacco constituents. The aim of this study was to assess the impact of environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) exposure during pregnancy on child neurodevelopment within the first two years of life. The study population consisted of 461 non-smoking pregnant women (saliva cotinine level <10 ng/mL). Maternal passive smoking was assessed based on the cotinine level in saliva analyzed by the use of high-performance liquid chromatography coupled with tandem mass spectrometry (HPLC-ESI + MS/MS) and by questionnaire data. The cotinine cut-off value for passive smoking was established at 1.5 ng/mL (sensitivity 63%, specificity 71%). Psychomotor development was assessed in children at the age of one- and two-years using the Bayley Scales of Infant and Toddler Development. Approximately 30% of the women were exposed to ETS during pregnancy. The multivariate linear regression model indicated that ETS exposure in the 1st and the 2nd trimesters of pregnancy were associated with decreasing child language functions at the age of one (β = –3.0, p = 0.03, and β = –4.1, p = 0.008, respectively), and two years (β = –3.8, p = 0.05, and β = –6.3, p = 0.005, respectively). A negative association was found for cotinine level ≥1.5 ng/mL in the 2nd trimester of pregnancy and child cognition at the age of 2 (β = –4.6, p = 0.05), as well as cotinine levels ≥1.5 ng/mL in all trimesters of pregnancy and child motor abilities at two years of age (β = –3.9, p = 0.06, β = –5.3, p = 0.02, and β = –4.2, p = 0.05, for the 1st, the 2nd, and the 3rd trimester of pregnancy, respectively; for the 1st trimester the effect was of borderline statistical significance). This study confirmed that ETS exposure during pregnancy can have a negative impact on child psychomotor development within the first two years of life and underscore the importance of public health interventions aiming at reducing this exposure.

Original languageEnglish
Article number796
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Jul 17 2017


  • Child neurodevelopment
  • Cognitive
  • Environmental tobacco smoke
  • Language and motor functions
  • Passive smoking
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal period

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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