A surprising reason why some newborns test positive for marijuana

Frank Vinluan
baby, newborn
Some newborns are testing positive for marijuana exposure and the reason why could surprise you.
Soap and hand wash products, including products commonly used in hospital nurseries, can interfere with urine drug tests of newborns and lead to false positives, according to a new study  from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill .
The June issue of Clinical Biochemistry published the study , which was led by Catherine Hammett-Stabler, a professor of pathology and laboratory medicine at UNC Hospitals. Last year, UNC Hospitals increased use of a urine test to identify tetrahydrocannabinol-delta 9-carboxylic acid, or THC, the main chemical component of marijuana. The screening protocol had been revised to be consistent with the latest recommendations for newborn drug screening.
In the study, Hammett-Stabler said that clinical labs received a call in July 2011 from nurses in the newborn nursery asking about an increase in positive THC results from the drug screens. While urine samples tested positive, samples from the first bowel movement were not. Something was causing the positive test results and it wasn’t marijuana use. The mothers’ and newborns’ drug histories showed no potential agents that could alter a screening test.
Hammett-Stabler concluded that something was getting into the samples and interfering with the tests. After eliminating cotton balls, collection containers and possible dyes in the outer portion of diapers, the team focused on baby wash. A test of commercially available baby washes identified some of the chemicals and detergents that were causing the false positives. But the team does not know the mechanism by which these agents are causing the positive results.
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