The effect of tobacco smoking during pregnancy on plasma oxidant and antioxidant status in mother and newborn

Eur J Obstet Gynecol Reprod Biol. 2011 Apr;155(2):132-6. doi: 10.1016/j.ejogrb.2010.12.006. Epub 2011 Jan 7.


Objective: The aim of the study was to estimate the effect of tobacco smoking during pregnancy on oxidative damage and antioxidant defence in matched samples of maternal blood and cord blood.

Study design: Healthy, pregnant women (n=140) were divided into non-smoking and smoking groups according to the concentration of cotinine in serum and urine. Oxidative damage was measured through levels of malondialdehyde (MDA) and plasma antioxidant status was evaluated by measuring concentrations of total radical trapping parameters (TRAP) and selected antioxidants (β-carotene, vitamin A, vitamin E, uric acid). Statistical analysis was done using the SAS System for Windows (SAS Institute, Cary, NC).

Results: In the course of pregnancy the concentration of MDA increased, but to higher values in smoking women than in non-smoking ones. It was accompanied by significantly lower TRAP in the smoking group than in the controls (p<0.05). Plasma concentration of uric acid (p<0.05) and antioxidant vitamins E (p<0.01), A and β-carotene (p<0.0001) were all reduced in smokers as compared with non-smoking pregnant women especially in the third trimester. Concentration of MDA in plasma of cord blood of newborns of smoking mothers was significantly higher (p<0.01) but the antioxidant defence was lower (p<0.0001) than in non-smoking ones. It was particularly pronounced for β-carotene (32%; p<0.0001) and vitamin A (28%; p<0.001). A significant negative correlation was found between MDA and TRAP levels of maternal plasma (non-smoking and smoking: r=-0.50, p<0.0001) and cord plasma (non-smoking: r=-0.54, p=0.0057; smoking: r=-0.71, p=0.0004) in all the study subjects. Total antioxidant status positively correlated with concentrations of uric acid and vitamin E in non-smoking and smoking mothers as well as their newborns.

Conclusion: Tobacco smoke enhances lipid peroxidation and depletes antioxidant potential in the plasma of pregnant women and umbilical cord blood. Therefore smoking during pregnancy may stimulate free radical damage in the mother and the growing fetus.

MeSH terms

  • Antioxidants / analysis*
  • Cotinine / blood
  • Cotinine / urine
  • Female
  • Fetal Blood / chemistry
  • Free Radical Scavengers / blood
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Lipid Peroxidation / drug effects
  • Male
  • Malondialdehyde / blood
  • Maternal Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Maternal-Fetal Exchange*
  • Oxidants / blood*
  • Oxidative Stress / drug effects*
  • Pregnancy
  • Smoking / adverse effects*
  • Smoking / blood*
  • Smoking / urine
  • Uric Acid / blood
  • Vitamin A / blood
  • Vitamin E / blood
  • beta Carotene / blood


  • Antioxidants
  • Free Radical Scavengers
  • Oxidants
  • beta Carotene
  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin E
  • Uric Acid
  • Malondialdehyde
  • Cotinine