UH Manoa to Share in $6.57 Million Grant from National Institute on Drug Abuse to Study Prenatal Methamphetamine Exposure

University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
Shawn Nakamoto, 956-9095
University & Community Relations
Kristen Cabral, 956-5039
University & Community Relations
Posted: Nov 7, 2001

The University of Hawaii at Manoa is one of six sites across the United States that will participate in a study on prenatal methamphetamine exposure that recently was awarded a federal grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse. The grant, entitled "Prenatal Methamphetamine Exposure and Child Outcome," is the first large-scale study on this topic.

The five-year, $6.57 million grant was awarded to the Emma Pendleton Bradley Hospital and Brown Medical School in Rhode Island, and will be administered to six subcontracted sites: the University of Maryland in Baltimore, University of California at Los Angeles, University of Hawaii at Manoa (Kapiolani Medical Center), University of Oklahoma at Tulsa, Harbor-UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles, and the Iowa Health System in Des Moines.

"This multi-center study will look specifically at the issue of maternal methamphetamine use during pregnancy and its potential effect on infant and child behavior and development," explained Dr. Chris Derauf, program director of the Integrated Pediatric Residency Program of the University of Hawaii at Manoa's John A. Burns School of Medicine.

"A lot of research has been done on prenatal cocaine exposure, but little on prenatal methamphetamine exposure," said Dr. Derauf. "With the increase in use of methamphetamine across the nation, there is concern about what impact it has on children‘s development."

The study has three goals: to determine the developmental consequences of prenatal methamphetamine exposure from birth to age 3; to describe the environmental characteristics of methamphetamine exposed children; and to determine how the drug and the environment affect the outcome of these children.

"This study will enable us to advance our scientific understanding of this emerging problem and enhance our ability to develop appropriate interventions for these children and their families," said the study's principal investigator Barry M. Lester, Ph.D., Professor of Psychiatry and Human Behavior, and Pediatrics, Brown Medical School and Director of the Infant Development Center, a collaboration between Women & Infants Hospital and Bradley Hospital. "This is a problem that needs to be addressed and the first step in that process is research."

It is estimated that 11 percent of children in the United States live with at least one parent who is an alcoholic or illicit drug user. In 1999, the number of people who had tried methamphetamine was 4.3 million, an increase from 2.5 percent in 1997. "The areas targeted for our research have a high prevalence of methamphetamine use among pregnant women," said Dr. Lester.

Kapiolani Medical Center for Women and Children, where JABSOM's Department of Pediatrics and the Integrated Pediatric Residency Program are located, is where the study will be conducted for Hawaii. The Hawaiʻi study will involve 112 infants, 56 born to mothers who used methamphetamine during pregnancy and 56 born to mothers who did not (the control group). These infants will participate in the study from birth for the next three years as researchers and physicians monitor their development and behavior. Participation in the study will be offered to any mother who meets the eligibility requirements and offers informed consent. A federal certificate of confidentiality will be used in the study to protect the privacy of individuals participating who may be using drugs.

"This study will hopefully allow us ultimately to develop strategies to optimize the health and development of infants who may have been exposed during the mother's pregnancy," said Dr. Derauf.

The UH Integrated Pediatric Residency Program is dedicated to the education and training of pediatricians who will lead the community in the medical care of and the advocacy for the children of Hawai'i and the Pacific Basin, with a commitment to research, and in partnership with the medical community. It is a three-year program designed to prepare physicians for a career in Primary Care Pediatrics.