How Legalization May Affect Childhood Cases

  • The researchers found a decrease of 1% in the prevalence of pediatric asthma from 2011-2012 to 2018-2019.
  • Asthma prevalence has increased among adolescents ages 12 to 17 in states where lawmakers have legalized recreational cannabis use.
  • The prevalence of asthma has also increased among children from non-Hispanic minority groups in these states.
  • The ecological study used data from the 2011-2019 National Child Health Survey.

Asthma is a chronic inflammatory disease of the airways that can cause wheezing, difficulty breathing and coughing and can potentially lead to permanent lung damage and even death.

In regards to 6 million children in the United States suffer from asthma, according to the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Black and Hispanic children in the United States have a significantly higher risk of developing asthma than white children. Boys under 13 have a higher prevalence of asthma than girls of the same age.

A study by researchers from Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health and the City University of New York noted an increase in the prevalence of asthma among older children in states where lawmakers have legalized the use. recreational cannabis.

This study, according to its authors, is the first to look at changes in cannabis laws at the state level and the incidence of asthma in children.

The researchers’ findings were published in the journal Preventive medecine.

“No one has really written anything or done any studies on this,” said Renee Goodwin, adjunct associate professor in the department of epidemiology at Columbia Mailman School of Public Health, a professor at City University of New York and co-author. of this study, says Medical News Today.

For their study, the researchers used data from the National Children’s Health Survey (NSCH), a representative sample of the population of underage children in the United States.

The researchers used NSCH data to calculate the prevalence of caregiver-reported pediatric asthma. The figures have been established for the years 2011-2012, 2016-2017 and 2018-2019.

The sample consisted of 227,451 American children. The average age was slightly over 8 years old. Of the children, nearly 51% were male and nearly 60% identified as non-Hispanic white, nearly 17% as Hispanic, and 12% as non-Hispanic black.

The researchers calculated that the prevalence of pediatric asthma was almost 9% in 2011-2012. This number fell to 8% in 2016-17 and 7.8% in 2018-19.

“Overall, while reductions were generally greater in states without cannabis legalization or with [legalization of medical marijuana]reduction rates were not statistically different [whether or not a state had legalized recreational use or medicinal use of cannabis]write the researchers in the article about their study.

Among 12- to 17-year-olds, the prevalence of asthma increased in states with cannabis legislation, particularly in states that had legalized recreational marijuana use.

Overall, increases in pediatric asthma were significantly greater among children who identified as non-Hispanic minorities in states where cannabis was legal for recreational and medicinal use compared to states where cannabis was not. is not legal.

The largest increase in pediatric asthma in all states where recreational cannabis use is legal is among young Hispanics.

The researchers warn in the paper that their findings do not establish a direct link between marijuana laws and the increased prevalence of pediatric asthma.

Dr. Brian Christman, volunteer spokesperson for the American Lung Association and professor and vice president of clinical affairs and associate director of the medical residency program at Vanderbilt University in Tennessee, pointed to the declining prevalence of the pediatric asthma shown in the study.

He attributes the change, in part, to public health work around smoking and second-hand smoke.

“What that tells us is that we’ve done a great job of tobacco control,” he said. DTM. “And so in most states the prevalence of asthma in children has just gone down, which is great.”

The fact that the prevalence of asthma has increased among young people aged 12 to 17 in states with cannabis legislation reflects that “apparently it is used in the home around teenagers who have asthma. highest incidence of asthma in the diary, and it irritates their airways. .”

Christman pointed out that the study, which he was not involved in, had a large number of participants.

“The numbers aren’t huge, but when you see some percentage changes, and you’re talking about hundreds of thousands of people, that’s probably significant,” he said.

goodwin said DTM she undertook this study because she noticed how quickly different states were moving to legalize the recreational use of marijuana, despite the fact that she feels there needs to be more and better public health messages regarding cannabis.

“There is a perception that cannabis smoke is different or harmless compared to cigarette smoke,” she said.

Goodwin pointed out that pediatricians have a list of questions to ask about children’s homes. However, the list does not include a question about whether or not anyone in the home smokes cannabis indoors, she said.

“There’s no advice for parents and there’s no advice for clinicians,” Goodwin said.

Cannabis-smoking parents had better smoke outside, Christman says DTM.

“To be considerate of your family, especially with children when they have growing and developing lungs,” he said. “Or you can have long term effects from this type of exposure.”

A 2021 studywhere Goodwin was also a co-author, found that in states where recreational cannabis use is legal or where medical marijuana is legal, adults living in households with children were more likely to have used cannabis in past month and were more likely to use cannabis daily compared to households in states where cannabis is not legal.

The highest prevalence of cannabis use in this study was among people aged 18 to 25 in states where recreational cannabis use is legal and those who self-identified as non-Hispanic, black in states where the recreational use is legalized.

If more parents are using cannabis, Goodwin said, they need to know if secondhand exposure to cannabis smoke is dangerous.

However, more research needs to be done on the subject, according to Goodwin.

“State legislatures are acting in the absence of science,” she said.

A 2016 study however, found that one minute of exposure to secondhand cannabis smoke significantly impairs endothelial function (the lining of blood vessels) in rats for at least 90 minutes.

Another earlier study confirmed the presence of known carcinogens and other chemicals implicated in respiratory disease in the smoke of marijuana cigarettes.

“There is growing evidence that it is not harmless and may have even more harmful effects than tobacco,” Goodwin said.

Public health education has convinced some parents to go outside to smoke cigarettes because they know second-hand smoke is not good for children, Goodwin pointed out.

With cannabis, the law can make it difficult to go outside, depending on the state. Possession of cannabis may be legal in some states, but it may be illegal to use it in public. This could make parents reluctant to leave their building to smoke, according to Goodwin.

“They can’t just hang out,” she said.

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