Research News Roundup: January 19, 2023

    Prenatal Cannabis Use Disorder and Infant Hospitalization and Death in the First Year of Life

    Journal: Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 2023, doi: 10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2022.109728

    Authors: Gretchen Bandoli, Erin Delker, Benjamin T. Schumacher, Rebecca J. Baer, Ann E. Kelly & Christina D. Chambers


    Objective: To determine whether maternal cannabis use disorder is associated with infant hospitalization or death in the first year of life.

    Methods: We queried an administrative birth cohort derived from the hospital discharge database maintained by the California Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development and linked with vital statistics files. We included singleton, live-birth deliveries between 2011 and 2018. Pregnancies with cannabis use disorder were classified from International Classification of Disease codes. Outcomes included infant emergency department visits and hospital admissions identified from health records, and infant deaths identified from death records. Models were adjusted for sociodemographic variables, psychiatric comorbidities and other substance use disorders.

    Results: There were 34,544 births (1.0 %) with a cannabis use disorder diagnosis in pregnancy, with increasing prevalence over the study period. The incidence of infant death in the first year of life was greater among those with a maternal cannabis use disorder diagnosis than those without (1.0 % vs 0.4 %; adjusted risk ratio 1.4 95 % CI: 1.2-1.6). When examining specific causes of death, the increased risk estimates were attributable to perinatal conditions and sudden unexpected infant death. After adjustment, there was no increased risk of infant hospitalizations or emergency department visits.

    Conclusions: These findings warrant further investigation into the underlying mechanisms of maternal prenatal CUD on infant outcomes, and add to a rapidly expanding body of literature supporting the need for effective treatment options for pregnant individuals with cannabis use disorders.

    To read the full text of the article, please visit the publisher’s website.

    HCV Serostatus and Injection Sharing Practices among Those Who Obtain Syringes from Pharmacies and Directly and Indirectly from Syringe Services Programs in Rural New England

    Journal: Addiction Science and Clinical Practice, 2023, doi: 10.1186/s13722-022-00358-7

    Authors: Eric Romo, Abby E. Rudolph, Thomas J. Stopka, Bo Wang, Bill M. Jesdale & Peter D. Friedmann


    Background: Among people who inject drugs (PWID), obtaining syringes via syringe services programs (SSPs) and pharmacies reduces injection sharing practices associated with hepatitis C virus (HCV). Whether indirect use of SSPs via secondary exchange confers a similar benefit remains unknown, particularly in rural settings. We compared HCV serostatus and injection sharing practices by primary syringe source among a sample of rural PWID.

    Methods: Data are from a cross-sectional study of adults who use drugs recruited from eleven rural counties in New Hampshire, Vermont, and Massachusetts using respondent-driven sampling (2018-2019). Study staff performed HCV antibody testing. An audio computer-assisted self-interview assessed sociodemographic characteristics, past 30-day injection practices, and past 30-day primary syringe source. Primary syringe source was classified as direct SSP, pharmacy, indirect SSP (secondary exchange), or “other” (friend/acquaintance, street seller, partner/relative, found them). Mixed effects modified Poisson models assessed the association of primary syringe source with HCV seroprevalence and injection sharing practices.

    Results: Among 397 PWID, the most common primary syringe source was “other” (33%), then pharmacies (27%), SSPs (22%), and secondary exchange (18%). In multivariable models, compared with those obtaining most syringes from “other” sources, those obtaining most syringes from pharmacies had a lower HCV seroprevalence [adjusted prevalence ratio (APR):0.85, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.73-0.9985]; however, the upper bound of the 95% CI was close to 1.0. Compared with those obtaining most syringes from other sources, PWID obtaining most syringes directly from SSPs or pharmacies were less likely to report borrowing used syringes [APR(SSP):0.60, 95% CI 0.43-0.85 and APR(Pharmacies):0.70, 95% CI 0.52-0.93], borrowing used injection equipment [APR(SSP):0.59, 95% CI 0.50-0.69 and APR (Pharmacies):0.81, 95% CI 0.68-0.98], and backloading [APR(SSP):0.65, 95% CI 0.48-0.88 and APR(Pharmacies):0.78, 95% CI 0.67-0.91]. Potential inverse associations between obtaining most syringes via secondary exchange and injection sharing practices did not reach the threshold for statistical significance.

    Conclusions: PWID in rural New England largely relied on informal syringe sources (i.e., secondary exchange or sources besides SSPs/pharmacies). Those obtaining most syringes from an SSP or pharmacy were less likely to share injection equipment/syringes and had a lower HCV seroprevalence, which suggests using these sources reduces the risk of new HCV infections or serves as proxy for past injection behavior.

    To read the full text of the article, please visit the publisher’s website.

    Alcohol Consumption and Epigenetic Age Acceleration in Young Adults

    Journal: Aging, 2023, doi: 10.18632/aging.204467

    Authors: Drew R. Nannini, Brian T. Joyce, Yinan Zheng, Tao Gao, Jun Wang, Lei Liu, David R. Jacobs, … Lifang Hou


    Alcohol is a widely consumed substance in the United States, however its effect on aging remains understudied. In this study of young adults, we examined whether cumulative alcohol consumption, i.e., alcohol years of beer, liquor, wine, and total alcohol, and recent binge drinking, were associated with four measures of age-related epigenetic changes via blood DNA methylation. A random subset of study participants in the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults Study underwent DNA methylation profiling using the Illumina MethylationEPIC Beadchip. Participants with alcohol consumption and methylation data at examination years 15 (n = 1,030) and 20 (n = 945) were included. Liquor and total alcohol consumption were associated with a 0.31-year (P = 0.002) and a 0.12-year (P = 0.013) greater GrimAge acceleration (GAA) per additional five alcohol years, while beer and wine consumption observed marginal (P = 0.075) and no associations (P = 0.359) with GAA, respectively. Any recent binge drinking and the number of days of binge drinking were associated with a 1.38-year (P < 0.001) and a 0.15-year (P < 0.001) higher GAA, respectively. We observed statistical interactions between cumulative beer (P < 0.001) and total alcohol (P = 0.004) consumption with chronological age, with younger participants exhibiting a higher average in GAA compared to older participants. No associations were observed with the other measures of epigenetic aging. These results suggest cumulative liquor and total alcohol consumption and recent binge drinking may alter age-related epigenetic changes as captured by GAA. With the increasing aging population and widespread consumption of alcohol, these findings may have potential implications for lifestyle modification to promote healthy aging.

    To read the full text of the article, please visit the publisher’s website.

    The Effect of Naloxone Access Laws on Fatal Synthetic Opioid Overdose Fatality Rates

    Journal: Journal of Primary Care and Community Health, 2023, doi: 10.1177/21501319221147246

    Authors: Mohammad Tabatabai, Robert L. Cooper, Derek M. Wilus, Ryan D. Edgerton, Aramandla Ramesh, Samuel A. MacMaster, Parul N. Patel & Karan P. Singh


    Background: Increases in fatal synthetic opioid overdoses over the past 8 years have left states scrambling for effective means to curtail these deaths. Many states have implemented policies and increased service capacity to address this rise. To better understand the effectiveness of policy level interventions we estimated the impact of the presence of naloxone access laws (NALs) on synthetic opioid fatalities at the state level.

    Methods: A multivariable longitudinal linear mixed model with a random intercept was used to determine the relationship between the presence of NALs and synthetic opioid overdose death rates, while controlling for, Good Samaritan laws, opioid prescription rate, and capacity for medication for opioid use disorder (MOUD), utilizing a quadratic time trajectory. Data for the study was collected from the National Vital Statistics System using multiple cause-of-death mortality files linked to drug overdose deaths.

    Results: The presence of an NAL had a significant (univariate P-value = .013; multivariable p-value = .010) negative relationship to fentanyl overdose death rates. Other significant controlling variables were quadratic time (univariate and multivariable P-value < .001), MOUD (univariate P-value < .001; multivariable P-value = .009), and Good Samaritan Law (univariate P-value = .033; multivariable P-value = .018).

    Conclusion: Naloxone standing orders are strongly related to fatal synthetic opioid overdose reduction. The effect of NALs, MOUD treatment capacity, and Good Samaritan laws all significantly influenced the synthetic opioid overdose death rate. The use of naloxone should be a central part of any state strategy to reduce overdose death rate.

    To read the full text of the article, please visit the publisher’s website.

    School-Based Harm Reduction with Adolescents: A Pilot Study

    Journal: Substance Abuse Treatment, Prevention, and Policy, 2022, doi: 10.1186/s13011-022-00502-1

    Author: Nina Rose Fischer


    A pilot study of Safety First: Real Drug Education for Teens showed significant results pre to post curriculum with high school freshmen. Negative outcomes of drug education are linked to a failure to engage students because of developmentally inappropriate materials that include activities that have no relevance to real experiences of young people. The few harm reduction studies showed increased student drug related knowledge. Students were less likely to consume substances, and less likely to consume to harmful levels. More studies are necessary to evidence harm reduction efficacy in the classroom. The goal of this study was to measure harm reduction knowledge and behaviors, including drug policy advocacy, before and after Safety First. Data were analyzed using McNemar’s test, ANOVA, linear regression, t-tests and thematic coding. Survey results, corroborated by the qualitative findings, showed a significant increase (p < .05) in high school freshmen harm reduction knowledge and behaviors in relationship to substance use pre to post Safety First. This increase related to a decrease in overall substance use. Harm reduction is often perceived as a controversial approach to substance use. These findings have implications for further study of what could be a promising harm reduction-based substance use intervention with teens.

    To read the full text of the article, please visit the publisher’s website.


    January 2023