Testing for drug-endangered children

AZrepublic_Arcpoint Labs

Question: My ex-husband has custody of our son every third weekend. He seems like a different child, when he returns; sleeping the rest of the day and all night. Not until he wakes the next day, does he seem himself. A Meth habit caused our divorce and I’m concerned he may be using drugs in front of his son. Can you test my child to see if he has been exposed to drugs?

Answer: The Federal Interagency Task Force for Drug Endangered Children defined a drug endangered child as “… a person, under age 18, who is exposed to an environment where drugs are used, possessed and/or manufactured and, as a result: the child experiences, or is at risk of experiencing, physical, sexual, or emotional abuse,…medical, educational, emotional, or physical harm; or the child is forced to participate in illegal or sexual activity in exchange for drugs or money likely to be used to purchase drugs.”

The well-being of a child is too important to use a standard workplace testing process. Hair testing is the most effective test method for identifying a child’s exposure and is 3.5 times more likely than urine, in detecting environmental methamphetamine exposure. Unlike testing for adults, the hair is unwashed prior to testing.  The results include drugs found on the hair, in addition to drugs found inside the hair.

In addition, positive cutoff values are set at lower levels for child testing and are 1,000 times more sensitive for environmental exposure than we use for adults.Absent this special ‘child-guard’ test, children’s samples run the risk of false-negative results and the possibility of leaving a child in a harmful environment.

Children living in drug environments are nearly three times more likely to experience abuse and four times more likely to experience neglect.Such high stakes require the proper and responsible criteria to drug testing children’s samples for environmental exposure.

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