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Alternative sources of ETS exposure in infants

Institution: San Diego State University Research Foundation
Investigator(s): Georg Matt, Ph.D.
Award Cycle: 1998 (Cycle 7) Grant #: 7IT-0087 Award: $109,687
Subject Area: Epidemiology
Award Type: Inno Dev & Exp Awards (IDEAS)

Initial Award Abstract
In California, approximately 1 in 3 children under age 5 are exposed to secondhand smoke in the home. Secondhand smoke contains many chemicals that can cause serious discomfort, illness, and even death. Inhaling secondhand smoke and ingesting breast milk are the most common sources of exposure in infants. Infants are likely to be exposed to secondhand smoke from other sources as well. This study explores whether dust and surfaces in rooms are contaminated by secondhand smoke and may pose a health risks to infants. Infants of smokers may be at a particular risk to these sources of exposure. During their first year of life, infants tend to be in close and frequent physical contact with their parents, spend significant amounts of time in close proximity to floors, carpets, or blankets, and frequently handle and insert various objects in their mouth (e.g., toys, pacifier). Through breathing or eating, infants may become exposed to secondhand smoke from contaminated dust or surfaces. It is important to better understand these sources of exposure because they may pose serious health threats even if no smoking takes place in the presence of an infant and long after smoking has ended.

To investigate these sources of secondhand smoke, three types of homes with infants under 1 year old will be investigated: ( 1) Homes of nonsmokers where the infant has not been exposed to secondhand smoke (No Exposure Group); (2) Homes of smoking mothers where no smoking took place in the presence of the infant over the past week either at home or outside of the home (Indirect Exposure Group); (3 Homes of smoking mothers where smoking took place in the presence of the infant (Direct Exposure Group). Dust, air, and surfaces will be examined in these homes for signs of secondhand smoke. Urine samples of infants will be investigated for signs of secondhand smoke exposure. Moreover, parents will be interviewed to collect data on their smoking histories, smoking patterns and cleaning habits. Data will be analyzed to compare indoor environments and secondhand smoke exposure of infants in home with smoking and nonsmoking parents. This study will provide much-needed data on potentially important alternative sources of ETS exposure for infants. Findings could have significant implications on measuring, reducing and preventing ETS exposure in infants.