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Examining the Health and Drug Exposures among Canadian Children Residing in Drug-Producing Homes

  • Monique Moller
    Affiliations
    Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

    Motherisk Program, Division of Clinical Pharmacology and Toxicology, Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
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  • Gideon Koren
    Affiliations
    Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

    Motherisk Program, Division of Clinical Pharmacology and Toxicology, Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
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  • Tatyana Karaskov
    Affiliations
    Motherisk Program, Division of Clinical Pharmacology and Toxicology, Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
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  • Facundo Garcia-Bournissen
    Correspondence
    Reprint requests: Facundo Garcia-Bournissen, MD, Hospital for Sick Children, Division of Clinical Pharmacology and Toxicology, Motherisk Program, 555 University Ave, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M5G1X8.
    Affiliations
    Motherisk Program, Division of Clinical Pharmacology and Toxicology, Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
    Search for articles by this author

      Objective

      To examine the health and well-being of children residing in residences where drug production is occurring.

      Study design

      Starting in January 2006, children identified by police and the Children’s Aids Society in the York region of Ontario, Canada, were referred to the Motherisk Program at the Hospital for Sick Children for pediatric assessment of their general health and well-being, with specific focus on illicit-drug exposure. We used a standard protocol to collect all available medical and environmental history, conducted physical and neurologic examinations, and collected hair for analysis of illicit drugs.

      Results

      In total, 75 children, at the mean age of 6.5 years, were referred to us after being removed from homes where marijuana was grown (80%) or other operations linked to drug production were occurring (20%). Overall, rates of health issues in this cohort fell below reference values for Canadian children. Of the hair tests, 32% were positive for illicit substances. In the majority there were no clinical symptoms related to these drugs.

      Conclusion

      The majority of children removed from drug-producing homes were healthy and drug free. Comprehensive evaluations should be performed on a case-by-case basis in order to determine what is ultimately in the best interest of the child.
      MDMA (3,4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine)
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      Linked Article

      • Safe at Home?
        The Journal of PediatricsVol. 159Issue 5
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          Most research on drug-exposed children focuses on prenatal exposures and outcomes. The report by Moller et al in this issue of The Journal1 adds to the scant but important literature on drug exposure in children removed from drug-producing homes. Law enforcement statistics document a substantial increase in domestic illicit drug production, primarily marijuana and methamphetamine, in the United States and Canada since 2000. Moller et al cite data estimating that as many as 10 000 children in the province of Ontario lived in drug-producing homes during 2000-2003.
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