Provider News Fall 2016 - Marijuana exposure in children

Marijuana exposure in children increases

Marijuana exposure among children is increasing, and it can cause significant health problems.

A new study presented at the Pediatric Academic Societies 2016 Meeting found that one in six infants and toddlers admitted to a Colorado hospital with coughing, wheezing and other symptoms of bronchiolitis tested positive for marijuana exposure. The rate of marijuana exposure among children ages 5 and younger in the United States increased by more than 147 percent between 2006 and 2013, according to a study published in Clinical Pediatrics.

In states where marijuana has been legalized, exposure in children increased by more than 600 percent.

The study used data from the National Poison Data System, and it concluded that most children were exposed to marijuana after swallowing it in items like brownies, cookies and other foods. While most exposures had minor clinical effects, some children experienced decreased breathing, seizures and even coma.

Marijuana remains popular among teenagers. Some believe it is not harmful because it is natural, but it contains more than 400 chemicals. It can be addictive, and it is linked with fatal and non-fatal car crashes, difficulty in school, multiple mental health issues including psychosis and panic, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

In your practice, talk to parents about the dangers of marijuana exposure in their children. If they use marijuana, remind them of the importance of keeping it secure, especially from young children.