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Secondhand Marijuana Smoke Tied to Respiratory Infections in Children

However, no negative impact seen on emergency department or urgent care visits, otitis media episodes, or asthma exacerbations

TUESDAY, Aug. 10, 2021 (HealthDay News) — Children whose parents or caregivers regularly smoke or vape marijuana may experience viral respiratory infections, according to a study published online July 29 in Pediatric Research.

Adam B. Johnson, from the Wake Forest School of Medicine in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and colleagues sought to determine caregiver marijuana use prevalence (in a state where marijuana is legal) and evaluate any association of secondhand marijuana smoke with childhood emergency department or urgent care visits as well as several tobacco-related illnesses (otitis media, viral respiratory infections, and asthma exacerbations). A convenience sample survey of 1,491 parents and caregivers was included.

The researchers found that 10.5 percent of caregivers reported smoking marijuana and 19.6 percent reported smoking tobacco. There was an increased rate of viral respiratory infections in the children of caregivers using marijuana (1.31 episodes/year) compared with caregivers with no marijuana use (1.04 episodes/year). There were no differences seen for emergency department or urgent care visits, otitis media episodes, or asthma exacerbations, regardless of smoke exposure.

“These findings could be used to help target and shape public health messaging aimed at parents and caregivers in order to raise awareness of the potential negative impacts that secondhand marijuana smoke exposure can have on children’s health,” Johnson said in a statement.

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