Why Are Babies Testing Positive for Pot?
A recent study explains why newborns are failing their first drug tests
You just know a baby girl named Mary Jane has to be involved in this story somewhere. In what could go down as one of the strangest pediatric health studies this year, researchers from UNC Chapel Hill are now saying that certain baby bath products are making newborns test positive for marijuana.
It all started when nurses at a hospital in North Carolina voiced concern over the number of newborn urine tests coming back with detectable levels of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the active ingredient in marijuana. After putting urine samples through more sophisticated testing, Chapel Hill researchers didn’t find any kind of “smoking” gun. But what they did find were miniscule amounts of certain 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.
Are these companies sneaking pot into their bath products? No, it’s not that sinister. Researchers say the positive pot tests are either a case of mistaken identity—chemical compounds in these particular soaps may be similar enough in structure to be “recognized” as THC—or it could be that some ingredients in baby wash cause the tests to work differently. Researchers also figured out that baby soap wasn’t actually in the urine—it had washed off the skin as the sample was being taken.
This is the kind of study that will undoubtedly inspire jokes about babies being born with the munchies or newborns flunking their first drug tests, but the stakes are pretty high when it comes to these drug screenings. It is not impossible that a positive THC screen—even if it’s a false positive—could trigger an investigation by Child Protective Services. In North Carolina, some hospitals are now taking the extra step of sending pot-positive urine samples for more testing to confirm results before contacting CPS. Yikes.
What do the experts think? Weird screening results can be easily avoided by following the advice of most pediatricians and been-there-done-that moms: skip soap of any kind at bath time because newborns don’t get that dirty. Period. All that’s required is warm water, a soft washcloth, and plenty of
THC TLC—tender loving care—from you!
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