Commercial Ethyl Glucuronide (EtG) and Ethyl Sulfate (EtS) Testing is Not Vulnerable to Incidental Alcohol Exposure in Pregnant Women

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Substance use & misuse


BACKGROUND: Ethyl Glucoronide (EtG) and Ethyl Sulfate (EtS) have shown promise as biomarkers for alcohol and may be sensitive enough for use with pregnant women in whom even low-level alcohol use is important. However, there have been reports of over-sensitivity of EtG and EtS to incidental exposure to sources such as alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Further, few studies have evaluated these biomarkers among pregnant women, in whom the dynamics of these metabolites may differ.

OBJECTIVES: This study evaluated whether commercial EtG-EtS testing was vulnerable to high levels of environmental exposure to alcohol in pregnant women.

METHODS: Two separate samples of five nurses-one pregnant and the other postpartum, all of whom reported high levels of alcohol-based hand sanitizer use-provided urine samples before and 4-8 hours after rinsing with alcohol-based mouthwash and using hand sanitizer. The five pregnant nurses provided urine samples before, during, and after an 8-hour nursing shift, during which they repeatedly cleansed with alcohol-based hand sanitizer (mean 33.8 uses). The five postpartum nurses used hand sanitizer repeatedly between baseline and follow-up urine samples.

RESULTS: No urine samples were positive for EtG-EtS at baseline or follow-up, despite use of mouthwash and-in the pregnant sample-heavy use of hand sanitizer (mean of 33.8 uses) throughout the 8-hour shift.

CONCLUSIONS/IMPORTANCE: Current, commercially available EtG-EtS testing does not appear vulnerable to even heavy exposure to incidental sources of alcohol among pregnant and postpartum women.

Medical Subject Headings

Adult; Biomarkers; Disinfectants; Ethanol; Female; Glucuronates; Hand Sanitizers; Humans; Mouthwashes; Pregnancy; Sulfuric Acid Esters; Young Adult

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