HealthDay News — Children with exposure to secondhand marijuana and tobacco smoke have an increased rate of emergency department visitation, according to a study presented at the annual meeting of the Pediatric Academic Societies, held from May 5 to 8 in Toronto.

Adam B. Johnson, MD, PhD, from the Arkansas Children’s Hospital in Little Rock, and Rakesh D. Mistry, MD, from the Children’s Hospital of Colorado in Aurora, surveyed 1,500 caregivers of children presenting to the emergency department of a tertiary care, academic children’s hospital. Data were collected on caregiver use of tobacco and/or marijuana. 

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The researchers found that 9.2 and 19% of caregivers reported regularly smoking marijuana and tobacco, respectively, with 4.1, 14.2, 5, and 76.6% reporting marijuana use only, tobacco use only, use of marijuana and tobacco, and neither tobacco nor marijuana use, respectively. The rate of emergency department visitation was similar for all groups, except the marijuana plus tobacco group, which had a significantly higher rate of emergency department visits compared with controls. Compared with controls, children in the marijuana and tobacco group had a statistically significant increase in otitis media episodes (incident rate ratio, 1.81).

“Children exposed to the combination of marijuana and tobacco smoke have increased emergency department visitation and otitis media episodes compared to children with no smoke exposure,” the authors write. “This is the first study to demonstrate the notable impact between secondhand marijuana smoke exposure and child health.”

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