Calibrating self-reported measures of maternal smoking in pregnancy via bioassays using a monte carlo approach

Vanja M. Dukic, Marina Niessner, Kate E. Pickett, Neal L. Benowitz, Lauren S. Wakschlag

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Maternal smoking during pregnancy is a major public health problem that has been associated with numerous short- and long-term adverse health outcomes in offspring. However, characterizing smoking exposure during pregnancy precisely has been rather difficult: self-reported measures of smoking often suffer from recall bias, deliberate misreporting, and selective non-disclosure, while single bioassay measures of nicotine metabolites only reflect recent smoking history and cannot capture the fluctuating and complex patterns of varying exposure of the fetus. Recently, Dukic et al. [1] have proposed a statistical method for combining information from both sources in order to increase the precision of the exposure measurement and power to detect more subtle effects of smoking. In this paper, we extend the Dukic et al. [1] method to incorporate individual variation of the metabolic parameters (such as clearance rates) into the calibration model of smoking exposure during pregnancy. We apply the new method to the Family Health and Development Project (FHDP), a small convenience sample of 96 predominantly working-class white pregnant women oversampled for smoking. We find that, on average,ESS misreporters smoke 7.5 cigarettes more than what they report to smoke, with about one third underreporting by 1.5, one third under-reporting by about 6.5, and one third underreporting by 8.5 cigarettes. Partly due to the limited demographic heterogeneity in the FHDP sample, the results are similar to those obtained by the deterministic calibration model, whose adjustments were slightly lower (by 0.5 cigarettes on average). The new results are also, as expected, less sensitive to assumed values of cotinine half-life.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1744-1759
Number of pages16
JournalInternational journal of environmental research and public health
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2009


  • Bioassay
  • Calibration
  • Self-report
  • Smoking

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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