Like tobacco smoke, marijuana smoke is inhaled by
children in the presence of adults who are using it. Children exposed to secondhand marijuana smoke show measurable
amounts of the drug in their bodies, a researcher at the Icahn School of
Medicine at Mount Sinai has found. The study was published in the
journal Pediatric Research.
The study found that when young children are exposed to secondhand
marijuana smoke, measurable amounts of primary metabolite of the active
component in psychoactive chemical Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) appears
in samples of their urine.
‘When young children are exposed to secondhand marijuana smoke, measurable amounts of primary metabolite of the active component in psychoactive chemical Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) appears in samples of their urine.’
Because earlier analytical methods were
developed to measure biomarkers of marijuana in primary users of the
drug, a new, more sensitive analytic method was developed and used by
the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to quantify
the trace biomarkers resulting from secondhand marijuana smoke exposure.
"This shows that, ," said Karen Wilson, Debra and Leon Black Division Chief of General Pediatrics, and the
Vice-Chair for Clinical and Translational Research for the Department of
Pediatrics at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. "In areas
where marijuana use is legal, or common, education is needed to counsel
parents on the dangers posed to their children by secondhand smoke."
For the study, urine samples were collected from 43 babies between
the ages of one month and two years who were hospitalized in Colorado
with bronchiolitis, and their parents were asked to complete a survey
about marijuana smoking habits. The samples were analyzed, and levels of
biomarkers for a marijuana metabolite (COOH-THC) were recorded.
COOH-THC was detectable in 16% of the samples, at concentrations
between 0.04 and 1.5 nanograms per milliliter of urine - lower than
would be seen in a primary user. This percentage was consistent with the
number of parents who self-reported marijuana usage in the survey.
"Parent reported screening questions in areas where marijuana is
legal is a helpful first step," said Dr. Wilson. "While we do not know
yet whether this exposure poses a health risk to children, this study
highlights the urgency of further investigation.