Secondhand Cannabis Smoke May Lead To Marijuana Allergies In Children

Exposure to secondhand smoke may have unexpected consequences for asthmatic children.

A recent study presented at the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology's annual conference in Seattle may be the first documented case of a cannabis allergy found in a child. But what's more surprising is that second-hand cannabis smoke seems to have been the trigger for the young boy's allergy.

The subject of the study lived in a home where family members regularly smoked cannabis inside. Not only did the exposure to secondhand smoke trigger the development of an allergy, but it also worsened his asthma. Once his family members stopped smoking in the house, his asthma symptoms improved.

"Children exposed to secondhand marijuana smoke can become allergic to cannabis, which in turn may significantly worsen their asthma or allergy symptoms," Dr. Bryce Hoffman - an Allergy and Immunology Fellow at National Jewish Health in Denver, Colorado and the lead author of the study - said during the conference. "This is particularly concerning as the cannabis may not be suspected as a cause."

Hoffman says the possibility of cannabis allergies should be considered in all asthmatic children who are exposed to second-hand cannabis smoke.

"This includes any use of marijuana in the household where the patient lives," Hoffman told Reuters. "These children should be referred to an allergist for further work-up."

And as cannabis consumption is increasingly both legalized and normalized across the US, these cases are likely to become more common, Hoffman warns.

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After a battery of tests and misdiagnoses, I was finally diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease twelve years ago, and thus began a long battle with trial-and-error medical treatments. I changed my diet several times, even though my doctors didn’t seem confident it would change much (it didn’t), went to physical therapy for pain-related issues, and took so many different pharmaceuticals I can’t even begin to recall each and every one. My days were foggy due to side effects from pharmaceuticals, such as steroids, that made me feel worse than I did before I even took them.

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