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article imageStudy: Few newborns test positive for marijuana

By Pratidnya Bhat     Jun 19, 2012 in Health
Chapel Hill - Baby soaps may cause infants to test positive for marijuana, according to a recent study carried out at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, published this month in the journal Clinical Biochemistry.
Newborn babies are bathed shortly after birth, and it has been observed that in some cases, usage of certain soaps have led to positive results for marijuana during the first screenings of these babies.
Pot screening test for newborns as well as mothers is common and is especially recommended for people who skip the prenatal care visits and more so for babies born to mothers who have a high risk for drug use. According to the University, 10% to 40% newborns have to undergo the test.
The issue was highlighted when the nurses at the North Carolina hospital noticed a high rate of marijuana-positive urine tests in babies. This triggered off the study for the researchers and they came up with surprising results.
The study conducted was based upon the urine samples of babies that contained minute amounts (less than 0.1 milliliters) of any of five baby soaps — Johnson & Johnson's Head-to-Toe Baby Wash, J&J Bedtime Bath, CVS Night-Time Baby Bath, Aveeno Soothing Relief Creamy Wash and Aveeno Wash Shampoo and each gave a positive result on a drug screening test for tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the active ingredient in marijuana, reports
"It's not marijuana in any way, shape or form," said study researcher Catherine Hammett-Stabler, a professor of pathology and laboratory medicine at the University, reported The Huffington Post.
The study was also taken up so that families would not be wrongly accused of exposing children to illegal drugs, something that would have been treated as a crime under the charge of child abuse and would need to be reported to social services.
"We really did this to help protect families from being falsely accused of drug use, and to help ensure that intervention efforts are directed to babies who are truly at risk of drug exposure”, said study researcher Dr. Carl Seashore, a pediatrician in the newborn nursery at UNC Chapel Hill.
Given the consequences, it has become even more imperative to carry out further tests, which are more sophisticated and expensive, for confirming these tests and hence hospitals generally do not perform these additional tests given the time and extra cost that is involved. Health-care providers and laboratory staff are digging in deep to find out a solution to this problem.
Although the researchers are still not sure about the causes of the positive tests, they asserted firmly that infants were not experiencing any ‘high’ from the soaps.
The researchers think minute amounts of the substances were simply washing off the babies’ skin into their urine samples and confounding the screens.
Yet, these false-positive results may result in worrying parents, who are ready to go to any limits with the ultimate goal to help their children thrive.
More about pot test, Johnson and Johnson, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
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