Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in maternal and cord blood plasma

Paula G. Radmacher, Stephen W. Looney, Steven R. Myers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) come from incomplete combustion of organic materials, including tobacco smoke. Some PAH are known to be mutagenic and carcinogenic and of concern for the fetus when women smoke during pregnancy. Known consequences of smoking during pregnancy include low birth weight (LBW) and preterm (PT) delivery. This study was designed to measure concentrations of 3 PAH: anthracene (A), benzo(a)pyrene (BP) and 1-hydroxypyrene (1-HP) in paired maternal (M) and cord blood (CB) samples. Additionally, we explored relationships between the PAH concentrations and LBW or PTD. Cotinine was used as a biomarker of tobacco exposure. All 3 PAH were found in M and CB plasma. A was significantly elevated in CB plasma compared to M plasma at higher M cotinine concentrations. BP in PT infants was significantly lower than in term. There were significant correlations between M and CB concentrations of anthracene. Correlations of 1-HP with cotinine in CB and M plasma were significant but opposite in direction. Anthracene, benzo(a)pyrene and 1-hydroxypyrene are present in measurable concentrations in M and CB plasma at the time of delivery. The higher concentrations of anthracene in CB plasma may be due to differences in maternal metabolism during pregnancy, length of labor or metabolism in the fetus. Long-term effects of anthracene on the infant are unknown and merit further investigation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)113-128
Number of pages16
JournalPolycyclic Aromatic Compounds
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2010


  • 1-hydroxypyrene (1-HP)
  • Anthracene(A)
  • Benzo(a)pyrene (BP)
  • Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH)
  • Pregnancy
  • Tobacco

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Polymers and Plastics
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Materials Chemistry


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