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Tobacco and cannabis exposure during pregnancy in six race/ethnic subgroups in California

Institution: Sequoia Foundation
Investigator(s): Martin Kharrazi,
Award Cycle: 2019 (Cycle 30) Grant #: T30IR0902 Award: $960,000
Subject Area: Environmental Exposure/Toxicology
Award Type: High Impact Research Project Award

Initial Award Abstract
With legalization of adult marijuana use in California in January 2018, and reports of increasing use of ecigarettes and nicotine replacement products, Californians are being exposed to tobacco and marijuana in ways as never before. It is an important time to have accurate information about these exposures and their ill effects, especially among our most vulnerable populations. Because ill effects can occur in both users of these products and those exposed to the secondhand smoke and vapors, and because it is challenging to get accurate information about these exposures from surveys, we propose a timely study of pregnant women using an objective approach to define exposure to tobacco and marijuana-containing products. We will focus on a sample of 1800 pregnant women residing in the Southern and Central Valley regions of California from six race/ethnic groups (300 from each group) who are expected to have a range of exposures to tobacco and marijuana. These six groups are Native Americans, African Americans, Samoans, Vietnamese, Whites and Hispanics/Latinas who provided blood during 2018-2020 in mid-pregnancy for screening of various birth defects and who consented that their blood could be stored and used for approved research. Through laboratory analysis of the blood, we will measure markers of tobacco and marijuana across a wide range, from high levels found in users of these products to low levels found in non-users exposed to secondhand smoke and vapors. We will determine levels of the markers in the six race/ethnic groups. We will see whether those with high levels of the tobacco marker also have higher levels of the marijuana marker. In addition, we will assess how additional factors that may help target interventions, like age, type of medical insurance, neighborhood poverty level, and proximity to marijuana retailers, are related to the exposure markers. The findings of this study will be useful to communities, cultural groups, medical care providers and public health professionals in making focused efforts towards prevention of these exposures in pregnant women.