HealthDay News — Children’s asthma appears to be increasing in states that have legalized cannabis, according to a study published online Dec. 30 in Preventive Medicine.
Renee D. Goodwin, Ph.D., from the City University of New York in New York City, and colleagues examined the relationship between cannabis legalization for medical or recreational use and the state-level prevalence of asthma among children in the United States. The analysis included data from the National Survey on Children’s Health (2011 to 2019).
The researchers observed a statistically significant decrease of 1.1 percent in the prevalence of pediatric asthma from 2011-2012 to 2018-2019. Overall reductions in asthma over time were generally greater in states with no cannabis legalization when adjusting for sociodemographic characteristics, but the rate of decline did not differ statistically by recreational or medical legalization status. The prevalence of asthma increased among youth ages 12 to 17 years old (2018 to 2019 difference-in-difference [DID], 2.56) and youth in some minoritized race/ethnicity identity groups (2016 to 2017 DID, 3.88; 2018 to 2019 DID, 4.45) in states with recreational legalization, relative to 2011 to 2012 and to states where cannabis is illegal at the state level.
“Critical next steps in this line of research include examining whether secondhand cannabis smoke is associated with increases in asthma morbidity, such as symptom frequency, use of rescue medicines, impairment (e.g., missed school), and emergency medical services, to provide insight into the extent to which increased exposure to secondhand cannabis smoke is affecting youth health and functioning across domains,” the authors write.