Study: Children Exposed To Secondhand Marijuana Smoke May Have More Respiratory Infections

Study: Children Exposed To Secondhand Marijuana Smoke May Have More Respiratory Infections

6:00am Aug 06, 2021
The study highlights the potential for increased respiratory infections in children exposed to secondhand marijuana smoke. Dr. Adam Johnson with Wake Forest School of Medicine says the health care implications could be significant as more states move towards legalizing recreational marijuana use. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File)

A new study shows that children who are exposed to secondhand marijuana smoke may have more frequent respiratory infections.

The research was a collaboration between Wake Forest School of Medicine and Children's Hospital Colorado.

Nearly 1,500 parents and caregivers from Colorado — where recreational and medicinal use of marijuana is legal — were surveyed for the study.

Parents who regularly smoked or vaped marijuana represented just over 10 percent of participants, with about five percent of respondents also smoking tobacco. They reported more viral respiratory infections in their children than in kids whose parents did not smoke tobacco or marijuana.

But neither group experienced ear infections or asthma attacks any more frequently. 

The researchers did find that parents who only smoked marijuana tended to be younger, more educated, and have a higher income than those who did not smoke marijuana or who only smoked tobacco. 

Dr. Adam Johnson of Wake Forest School of Medicine co-authored the study.

“This is an area that needs more study," says Johnson. "We might be seeing more and more marijuana prevalence as states legalize the use of marijuana. It makes sense to me that if tobacco smoke and marijuana smoke have similar compositions, that we might see similar negative health impacts.“

The authors warn that this type of observational study can’t conclude a definite causal relationship between secondhand marijuana smoke and frequency of respiratory infections, and that the findings may not apply to all children.

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