Background: The impact of secondhand marijuana smoke exposure on children is unknown. New methods allow detection of secondhand marijuana smoke in children.
Methods: We studied children ages 1 mo to 2 y hospitalized with bronchiolitis in Colorado from 2013 to 2015. Parents completed a survey, and urine samples were analyzed for cotinine using LC/MS/MS (limits of detection 0.03 ng/ml) and marijuana metabolites including COOH-THC (limits of detection 0.015 ng/ml).
Results: A total of 43 subjects had urine samples available for analysis. Most (77%) of the subjects were male, and 52% were less than 1 y of age. COOH-THC was detectable in 16% of the samples analyzed (THC+); the range in COOH-THC concentration was 0.03-1.5 ng/ml. Two subjects had levels >1 ng/ml. Exposure did not differ by gender or age. Non-white children had more exposure than white children (44 vs. 9%; P < 0.05). 56% of children with cotinine >2.0 ng/ml were THC+, compared with 7% of those with lower cotinine (P < 0.01).
Conclusion: Metabolites of marijuana smoke can be detected in children; in this cohort, 16% were exposed. Detectable COOH-THC is more common in children with tobacco smoke exposure. More research is needed to assess the health impacts of marijuana smoke exposure on children and inform public health policy.