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Hair nicotine levels in non-smoking pregnant women whose spouses smoke outside of the home
  1. Sang-Ho Yoo1,
  2. Yu-Jin Paek1,
  3. Seong-Soo Kim2,
  4. Do-Hoon Lee3,
  5. Dong-Ki Seo2,
  6. Moon-Woo Seong3,
  7. Hye-Mi Chang1,
  8. Seok-Tae Choi2,
  9. Hyoung-June Im4
  1. 1Department of Family Medicine and Health Promotion Center, Sacred Heart Hospital, Hallym University, College of Medicine, Anyang, Republic of Korea
  2. 2Bombit Women's Medical Services, Anyang, Republic of Korea
  3. 3Center for Clinical Services, National Cancer Center, Goyang, Republic of Korea
  4. 4Department of Occupational Medicine, Sacred Heart Hospital, Hallym University, College of Medicine, Anyang, Republic of Korea
  1. Correspondence to Professor Yu-Jin Paek, Department of Family Medicine and Health Promotion Center, Hallym University Sacred Heart Hospital, 896 Pyungchon-dong, Dongan-ku, Anyang-si, Gyeonggi-do, Republic of Korea 431-070; paek{at}


Objective To determine whether spouses who only smoke cigarettes outside the home can reduce the secondhand smoke (SHS) exposure of non-smoking pregnant women to the levels of those with non-smoking spouses.

Methods In this cross-sectional survey performed between 1 October 2006 and 31 July 2007, 896 non-smoking pregnant women in their 35th gestational week were included. Hair nicotine levels and the smoking behaviour of their spouses at home were assessed.

Results The geometric means of the hair nicotine levels of the participants with non-smoking spouses (group A), the participants with spouses who only smoked outside the home (group B), and the participants with spouses who smoked inside the home (group C) were 0.33 ng/mg (95% CI 0.30 to 0.35), 0.51 ng/mg (95% CI, 0.45 to 0.57) and 0.58 ng/mg (95% CI, 0.51 to 0.65), respectively. The mean log hair nicotine level of group A was significantly different from the other groups (p<0.001, Scheffe's post hoc test). Multiple linear regression analysis of the log-transformed hair nicotine levels of the participants after adjusting for confounding showed that the mean differences (SE of the mean difference) of groups B and C compared to the reference group A were 0.43 (0.07; p<0.001) and 0.44 (0.10; p<0.001), respectively.

Conclusions Spouses who only smoked outside the home did not reduce the level of SHS exposure of pregnant women to the level of pregnant women with non-smoking spouses. A strategy based on the separation of pregnant women and the smoking activity of their spouses might be inadequate to protect pregnant women from SHS at home.

  • Secondhand smoke
  • hair nicotine
  • passive smoking
  • pregnant woman
  • smoking behaviour
  • environmental tobacco smoke

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  • Funding The present study was supported in part by the Smoking Cessation Clinic at Dongan-ku Public Healthcare Center for hair nicotine measurement.

  • Competing interests None.

  • Ethics approval This study was conducted with the approval of the Institutional Review Board at Hallym University Sacred Heart Hospital.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.