Yet Another Way Drug Testing Fails: Baby Products Linked To False Positive Drug Test Results In Newborns

[Editor’s note: This post is excerpted from next week’s forthcoming NORML weekly media advisory. To have NORML’s news alerts and legislative advisories delivered straight to your in-box, sign up here.]

Commercially available baby soaps and other wash products that are commonly used with newborns may yield false positive results for THC in immunoassay drug screens, according to a just published study in the journal Clinical Biochemistry.

Investigators at the University of North Carolina, Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, assessed the impact of various baby wash products on drug-free urine samples after a number of false positive cannabinoid screening results were suspected at their hospital.

Researchers reported: “Mixtures of drug-free urine with various commercial products and materials that commonly contact newborns in our nursery were prepared and tested using the immunoassay screening methods in our laboratory. … Addition of Head-to-Toe Baby Wash to drug-free urine produced a dose dependent measureable response in the THC immunoassay. Addition of other commercially available baby soaps gave similar results, and subsequent testing identified specific chemical surfactants that reacted with the THC immunoassay.”

They concluded: “We have identified commonly used soap and wash products used for newborn and infant care as potential causes of false positive THC screening results. Such results in this population can lead to involvement by social services or false child abuse allegations. Given these consequences, it is important for laboratories and providers to be aware of this potential source for false positive screening results and to consider confirmation before initiating interventions.”

Read the abstract of the study, “Unexpected interference of baby wash products with a cannabinoid (THC) immunoassay,” here.

32 thoughts

  1. this is really nice to know…if only this info was known a few years ago when my sister was accused and had to fight it.

  2. This is nice to know but there is not enough information for the public to be fully informed, such as a list of all the products that are being tested and showing up as false positives. Many people have sensitive skin and use baby products on themselves due to them being “safer” on their skin so it is important for us to know exactly which products cause this for such times as pre-employment drug screening.

  3. This is a joke. Get science to do chromatography and spectrometry of the samples, then they might get the tests right. As far as concentration is concerned, I’m sure they can figure that out.

  4. NORML: Interesting article….I am a transit driver and worry about randum drug checks.I dont smoke much and nothing else.I dont use it on work hrs. and think it wrong if you want a little pot after work or on the weekends but have to worry come Mon.I am thin and they say skinny people dont have the fat cells that hold THC.Ive been tested 5-6 times now with nothing found.So far, so good I guess. Thanks LEGALIZE IT!!!!!

  5. drug testing is only testing for cannabis anyway. nothing else stays in your system long enough. so there is no actual drug testing in the united states, it’s ALL cannabis testing. if you smoke a joint, you will not find a job unless you have a family member or good friend who can get you in. trust me, i know, i have a college degree and am an honorably discharged veteran who has been turned down for 5 jobs because i use cannabis instead of taking prescription or even non-prescription drugs…

    it’s f’ng ridiculous… serve my country for what? so i can be poor and have to do illegal activities just to pay my bills so i don’t have to live on the street…

    yeah boy, your drug testing sure showed me, government…

    showed me that you’re a bunch of hypocritical NOBODIES who care only for themselves…

  6. The irony is that the same people outraged at government having too much of a say in things are the very people working hand in hand with government to support widespread drug testing in the workplace. The reality is they want government to let big business do whatever they want but want government to give the green light to them having control over the lives of the average working stiff. It is definitely becoming a corporocracy.

  7. You people – YOUR PARENTS and GRANDPARENTS – allowed the government to “run” with a lie – (marijuana makes black men want to rape your white daughters). NOW LOOK at where we are!!! We have to make disclaimers about soap and poppy bagels in order to thwart drug tests that shouldn’t be taking place in the first place!!!!!!!

    This is what happens when you sit on your asses and do nothing. Let this be a wake up call for all of you – next time someone tells a lie, don’t just sit there – GET IN HIS OR HER FACE and straighten them out!!!

  8. I followed one of the links to the ABCs of drug testing. Useful info.

    Apparently I should request a blood test instead of urine tests, because it tests for the presence of drugs and not metabolites. I doubt I have the option to chose though.

    I should also add a diuretic to the large volumes of water consumed before the test.

    What a waste of intellectual effort to be worrying about stuff like this!

  9. Interesting article! They should dive into this a little bit more and provide what products exactly are creating positive marijuana tests. This can be an unfortunate factor for people who may lose a job because of a bar of baby soap is pretty crazy!

  10. Uh, what? Why the F are they test babies for weed in the first place? Like this is some sort of “common problem”… This is crazy.

  11. Even a newborn gets tagged with the MARK OF THE BEAST by the FEDERAL DEATH AUTHORITY approval of their version authenticities of drug testing. Now they will be sending newborns for drug rehabilitation. All in the name of MARIJUANA PROHIBITION and another feather up the asses for the 21ST CENTURY INQUISITORS. HAIL TO THE MONARCHY!

  12. …and yet, they try to convince us that we’re still free while they examine our blood and urine and hair to see what we’ve been consuming. Now, they fly overhead in order to watch everyone. They have cameras everywhere and monitor our calls, our internet, our every financial transaction, etc,etc,etc. And they say that if you’re not doing anything wrong…

  13. Its simple.. We need to outlaw urine testing in a manner similar to what happened with polygraphs in the workplace..

  14. To Dave Evans, yes they test everyone’s new born baby. To make sure you weren’t smoking pot during pregnancy. If the baby is positive…you go home empty handed with a court date.

  15. yea folks… a little off subject but ,you who think you can cheat the urine test …wait until you get hair tested..that means either you stop consuming the remedy or you leave a good job… where are your priorties? i still dont understand how our government can allow employers to test what you do in you private life…after work…their is no free in freedom.peace to you all…

  16. Norma, I’ve never heard of this garbage before. Just sounds like another for the government to treat its people like niggers.

    “it’s f’ng ridiculous… serve my country for what? so i can be poor and have to do illegal activities just to pay my bills so i don’t have to live on the street…

    yeah boy, your drug testing sure showed me, government… showed me that you’re a bunch of hypocritical NOBODIES who care only for themselves…”

    Not only that, but they hate the future and would rather piss it away. Everything about the way the government handles marijuana is focused on turning something positive into a negative. The policy actually is, “Well marijuana hasn’t ruined you’re life; so we will do it for the marijuana in its place as a negative force in your life, your neighborhood, your work place. However, HIPPA stops the police abuse at the door. At least, that is what it is for.

    The US is the Land of the Hypocrite. What happened? And don’t tell me the money, there is a lot more money to be made with legal pot. Anyone who thinks illegal weed help the economy is a freaking retard. Paying the police to abuse and ruin people’s lives by the thousands is helping to destroy the economy and causing crime. It weakens our society. They are pissing away the future, right now, like losers with gambling problems trying to take our houses for their wagers and give our wealth away.

  17. This study won’t stop them from drug testing newborns and taking them away from their mothers if they fail for THC. Studies like these are ignored because they want you to think these tests are infallible and can’t be beaten. They want users to stay in fear and everyone else to believe they work 100% so they can justify pouring more money into the drug test sellers pockets.

  18. Proper protocol would not result in any administrative actions since gas chromatography would reveal negative results. If these people are making decisions based on preliminary testing procedures, then shame on them! There is absolutely no way that anything but THC-COOH will prove positive in gas chromatography.

  19. what is your stance on illigal immigration and the connection of violence in gorilla warfare? do you smoke pot? Let me tell you about me. diagnosed by the industry you are working with to ratify the legality of said sales i the The 50 state union, i spent a large majority of my life commatose as a result of marijuana AND THE DEATH OF MY BROTHER and the SUICIDE that was coupled with every bonghit. That marijuana was mailed to the states from a high times cannibus cup in amsterdam. My brother was a genius, despite common assumptions and previous judgments. he was oppressed like fat girl at a orgy of skinny white chicks. while he was woking on healing with frequency, he was stricken by guilt within the human subconcious network, the system of the sublimial mind that we often stare right into. i dont mid if you smoke, quit attacking ohter means like your cleaner than the root. that hurts me, so keep it out — work with making users more compatible with other kinds of users, not for life — stright, sober, and ive met more violent potheads that love to hate the culture that died for them to get that little stinky green.

  20. Do they put this stuff on the babies at the hospital, then do the “drug screenings”?

    This doesn’t sound remotely legal…

  21. The amount of misinformation in the comments section is staggering. I work in the lab where this problem was identified and where the research was being done, and can set the record straight.

    1. The babies did not ACTUALLY have drug in their system. The baby wash was on their skin and crossed over into their urine in their diaper or adhesive collection bag. An adult washing themselves with baby wash has 0 chance of a false positive due to this interference unless they shove the baby wash up their urethra before they give sample.

    2. For the actual study, the cleaners were not actually put on the babies (that makes for a horrible control group, since it becomes questionable when they do come up positive if it was the cleaner or the baby). Small amounts of various baby care products (basically, every liquid, lotion, and diaper wipe that ever touches the babies in our and our surrounding hospitals) was mixed with urine from a known negative patient.

    3. Studies like this won’t “be ignored.” Companies that designed the assays and companies that make some of the products identified have already taken note of the results. This study is most likely going to be presented at the national convention for Clincal Chemists to get the information further attention.

    4. Routine drug testing is not, as someone pointed out, just for THC. There is no industry required panel of tests, so most testing sites test for the 8-10 drugs most commonly seen in the area. Positive screens, in order to be legally valid, are always confirmed by chromatography. So feel free to ask for the blood test instead of the urine metabolites, but be prepared to pay out of pocket for it… the cost increase is much more significant than the increase in detection and your insurance company isn’t going to cover it.

    As to the list of products… let’s just say if it says any combination of the words “Skin”, “Wash”, “Soap”, “Cleanser” along with the word “Infant” or “Baby” we probably tested it.

  22. OK folks its time to make a stand.

    The only thing that can get things done is money and votes. Most of us have voting rights, some have money. If ya have some money to spare – contribute to Normal or a like organization and/or email this message to your elected officials and stand firm. Also send to like minded friends and family:

    To the President, Members of the US Congress, State and local elected officials:

    Criminal marijuana prohibition is a failure. Over 20 million Americans have been arrested for marijuana offenses since 1965 with over 800,000 arrests in 2010 and each year the number increases. The problem is getting worse – not because of the benign plant, but because of the obsolete laws. The time has come to amend criminal prohibition and replace it with a system of legalization, taxation, regulation, and education.

    I can no longer vote for elected officials that support the the current laws. I have decided not to vote for any politician that does not publicly support the removal of all penalties for the private possession and endorse responsible use of marijuana by adults, including cultivation for personal use, and casual nonprofit transfers of small amounts.


    Voting Citizen
    & Member of the Movement

  23. These ingredients are found in many adult products as well. Mothers could be passing them to infants prior to birth. It’s time to stop paper strip testing until and unless more answers are discovered.

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