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Drug Abuse Vulnerability and Neurodevelopmental Effects of Early Exposure to Secondhand Tobacco Smoke: Methodological Issues and Research Priorities - Workshop

Neuroscience Center
6001 Executive Blvd, Rockville, Maryland
January 13, 2009

NIDA Organizer(s):
Allison Chausmer (NIDA); Cora Lee Wetherington (NIDA); Nicolette Borek (NIDA); Cathy Backinger (NCI); Michele Bloch (NCI)

Meeting Purpose and Intent:

In 2007, the U.S. Surgeon General's Office released "The Health Consequences of Involuntary Exposure to Tobacco Smoke," a twenty-year follow-up to the original "The Health Consequences of Involuntary Smoking." Although there have been advances in what is known regarding the deleterious impacts of secondhand smoke (SHS) with respect to childhood asthma and respiratory problems, cardiovascular disease, reproductive effects, and cancer, much less is known about the role of exposure during infancy and childhood on neurodevelopmental outcomes including temperament, cognition, mental health disorders and vulnerability to addiction. In addition, there are a number of methodological challenges involved in conducting research on SHS. Therefore, the purpose of this one-day workshop was to convene an expert panel to address (1) methodological issues related to the measurement of SHS exposure and (2) the identification of neurodevelopmental effects of early SHS exposure including executive function, problem solving, decision making and early predictors of vulnerability to drug use or abuse, with the ultimate goal of identifying research priorities for the NIH and extramural research communities.

The workshop began with 2 overview presentations, followed by two panel discussions (see Agenda). Afterwards, breakout groups on "Basic Science/Clinical Research" and "Epidemiology and Populations Research" discussed opportunities for accelerating scientific breakthroughs and developed a list of priority research areas. Recommended priorities and research considerations included:

  • Develop animal models that use smoke exposure rather than nicotine only.
  • Utilize sensitive collection and measurement techniques, including short- and long-term markers biomarkers, genetics, and epigenetics.
  • Use clinical outcomes and associations found in the prenatal nicotine exposure literature as a platform for postnatal exposure studies including behavioral problems and obesity.
  • Develop accurate, "best practices" measures of exposure (and patterns of exposure) along prenatal-postnatal continuum: biological markers and self-report; multimodal techniques (e.g., biomarkers plus EMA). May need large samples to get exposure timing and sources.
  • Use the National Children's Study as a platform for investigation into effects of SHS.
  • Identify best outcome measures based on phenotype.
  • Examine mechanism of effects including stress, genetics, epigenetics, and the components of disorders.
  • Examine short, intermediate, and long-term outcomes and whether there are critical windows of exposure.
  • Include vulnerable populations.
  • Examine sex differences in outcomes.

Participants (PDF Format, 104kb)
Agenda (PDF Format, 160kb)

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