UC Davis researchers assess effects of smoke and ash on pre- and post-natal health of women and their babies
Women in Northern California who were pregnant during or right after the 2018 Camp Fire are invited to participate in a UC Davis study to determine if the fire affected their health and the health of their babies.
Experts leading the research — called the Bio-Specimen Assessment of Fire Effects (B-SAFE) Pregnancy Study — will collect samples from study participants that will be used to examine biological markers of and physiologic responses to wildfires and smoke exposure.
“Very little is known about how wildfires affect the health of women and babies exposed during pregnancy,” said principal investigator Rebecca J. Schmidt, associate professor of public health sciences and the MIND Institute at UC Davis. “Our goal is to gather mothers with fire-affected pregnancies who want to help us understand what they were exposed to and the biological effects of those exposures.”
All women who enroll are eligible for compensation and will be the first to know overall study outcomes. They also will help close gaps in what is known about the health effects of fires that involve manmade structures in addition to landscape. This is especially important in Northern California, where the wildfire incidence and intensity have increased in recent years.
— Rebecca Schmidt
Study participants must have been living or working in Northern California in November 2018. They also must be:
- at least 18 years of age
- able to understand and respond to written questions in English (the researchers plan to expand the study to include Spanish-language speakers)
- currently pregnant with an expected due date no later than December 8, 2019, or a new mom who was pregnant at the time of the fire
Researchers will collect hair, toenails, and saliva from participating women and their babies. Maternal breast milk, blood, urine and, if possible, placentas and umbilical cord blood will be collected from participants from Butte, Sutter, Yuba, Sacramento, Yolo, Glenn, Colusa, Nevada, Placer or El Dorado County.
B-SAFE is one of a series of wildfire studies funded by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences through the UC Davis Environmental Health Sciences Center.
Established in 2015, the center links experts in multiple UC Davis schools — medicine, veterinary medicine, engineering, biological sciences, letters and science, and agricultural and environmental sciences — for studies on the effects of environmental events, chemicals, pollutants, and disasters on disease and disability. The ultimate goal is to foster new approaches and policies that protect communities from harmful exposures. More information is available on the center’s website.