Cotinine in children admitted for asthma and readmission

Judie A. Howrylak, Adam J. Spanier, Bin Huang, Roy W.A. Peake, Mark D. Kellogg, Hadley Sauers, Robert S. Kahn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

66 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVE: To explore the relationship between tobacco smoke exposure (reported versus biomarker) and rates of readmission for children hospitalized for asthma. METHODS: We enrolled a prospective cohort of 774 children aged 1 to 16 years admitted for asthma or bronchodilator-responsive wheezing. The primary outcome was at least 1 asthma- or wheeze-related readmission within 1 year. Caregivers reported any tobacco exposure at home, in a secondary residence, or in the car. We measured serum and saliva cotinine levels with mass spectrometry. We used logistic regression to evaluate associations between tobacco exposure and readmissions. RESULTS: A total of 619 children had complete tobacco exposure data; 57% were African American and 76% had Medicaid. Seventeen percent of children were readmitted within 1 year. Tobacco exposure rates were 35.1%, 56.1%, and 79.6% by report, serum, and saliva measures, respectively. Caregiver report of any tobacco exposure was not associated with readmission (adjusted odds ratio: 1.18; 95% confidence interval: 0.79-1.89), but having detectable serum or salivary cotinine was associated with increased odds of readmission (adjusted odds ratio [95% confidence interval]: 1.59 [1.02-2.48] and 2.35 [1.22-4.55], respectively). Among children whose caregivers reported no tobacco exposure, 39.1% had detectable serum cotinine and 69.9% had detectable salivary cotinine. Of the children with reported exposure, 87.6% had detectable serum cotinine and 97.7% had detectable salivary cotinine. CONCLUSIONS: Detectable serum and salivary cotinine levels were common among children admitted for asthma and were associated with readmission, whereas caregiver report of tobacco exposure was not.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)e355-e362
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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