Study Says Parents Who Smoke Marijuana Make Their Kids Weak Against Respiratory Infections

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A new study has revealed that parents who like to smoke or vape marijuana expose their kids to secondhand smoke, making them more vulnerable to viral respiratory infections.

Experts from the Wake Forest School of Medicine in North Carolina learned that children whose parents regularly smoke marijuana or cannabis become more symptomatic of the common cold or flu. They tend to inhale more irritants in their lungs than parents who like tobacco cigarettes or never smoke. Their findings were published in Pediatric Research.

Researcher Adam Johnson and his team conducted the study because the effects of secondhand marijuana smoke exposure have not been thoroughly studied. Meanwhile, countless studies on secondhand tobacco smoke have shown that it can trigger respiratory illnesses like asthma among children.

1,500 Parents Surveyed

Johnson's team conducted their study in Colorado from 2015 to 2017 among 1,500 parents whose children under the age of 12 have been patients of a local pediatric emergency department. The team chose Colorado since it was one of the first states to legalize marijuana as a recreational substance in 2014.

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Of the 1,500 respondents, about half of the parents said they smoke both marijuana or tobacco cigarettes, and 10 percent said that they solely indulge in marijuana for recreation. The parents were asked about their children's illnesses for a certain period. The survey revealed that an average of 1.3 respiratory infections affected the kids whose parents smoked or vaped marijuana. On the other hand, kids whose parents didn't smoke any substance or only take tobacco cigarettes had an average of just one viral illness a year.

The experts also looked into kids whose asthma issues could be exacerbated by marijuana and found that the incidence is quite low. While this research was not an actual trial and the survey was based on the parents' memories, not actual medical records, the experts said their assumptions about marijuana smoke could be plausible.

"These findings could be used to help target and shape public health messaging aimed at parents and caregivers," the experts said, adding that it can help raise awareness on the "negative impacts that secondhand marijuana smoke exposure can have on children's health."

Side Effects of Secondhand Marijuana Smoke

Studies have shown that a child inhaling secondhand marijuana smoke is not likely to get high. However, a few situations may put the child at risk if the adult is physically close to the child while smoking in a room where there is poor ventilation. The risk of exposure in kids also increases if the adult smokes cannabis with a high concentration of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).

A child who inhales marijuana smoke may experience coughing, headache, dry mouth, itchy or red eyes, rapid heartbeat, lightheadedness, tiredness, nausea, increased appetite, euphoria, paranoia, and anxiety. In some cases, marijuana may impair motor skills or memory.

As a matter of caution, the experts said that parents need to remember that marijuana cigarettes have substances found in tobacco cigarettes. Thus, they cannot discount that the risk and harm of secondhand smoke from both substances are similar.

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