Child abuse and neglect are major public health concerns around the world today. When a child is exposed to illegal substance abuse, they often face other coexisting obstacles to normal life – neglect, abuse, violence, and other vulnerabilities. Frequently, child neglect is not a one-time episode but rather a pattern of circumstances where their caregivers do not meet the child’s needs.1 Substance abuse is a disease that often prevents adults from doing what is in a child’s best interest.
With so many children staying at home during the pandemic, child abuse and neglect have become more concerning than ever, but also harder to recognize. With stay-at- home orders and children no longer having to be in a public setting daily, it is easier than ever for those exposed to substance abuse to fall by the wayside.
Detecting these dangerous environments is paramount to keeping the child safe. One of the challenges family lawyers and courts might face is being able to properly investigate the substance abuse allegation(s) raised in Juvenile and Family Court to determine if it is a valid concern. Gathering and organizing the most relevant information about substance abuse has historically been challenging because of a lack of awareness regarding what to look for and how courts will process the information. Fortunately, there is a test designed to specifically bridge that gap of uncertainty, especially when there is an allegation about child drug exposure.
Testing a child using ChildGuard®, an environmental hair exposure drug test, can assist where other non-exposure drug tests fall short. ChildGuard is the only environmental drug exposure test designed to detect passive exposure to drugs, distinguishing between both native drugs and drug metabolites in hair specimens.
What Makes ChildGuard Different
Standard hair drug tests are typically based on workplace testing guidelines, reporting negative results even when a native drug is present resulting in missed opportunities for drug exposure in children.
ChildGuard reports a positive result if either native drugs or drug metabolites are detected, giving much better insight into the child’s environment. ChildGuard can provide evidence of substance exposure in a child’s environment for up to approximately 3 months and can be performed on donors of any age.
A positive ChildGuard test result suggests that the donor has experienced one or more of the following:
- Contact with the actual drug
- Contact with drug smoke
- Contact with sweat or sebum (skin oil) of a drug user
- Passive inhalation of drug smoke
- Accidental or unintentional ingestion of the drug(s)
How Drugs Are Incorporated into Hair
Hair acts like a sponge in its environment, trapping exposure through multiple channels.
Sweat: Hair becomes saturated with sweat as we perspire. Drugs and drug metabolites can be secreted through the sweat glands and are absorbed by the hair shaft.
Sebum: Sebaceous glands in the hair follicles deposit an oily substance, known as sebum, that lubricates the growing hair shaft. Drugs and drug metabolites in the sebum can be deposited and absorbed by the hair.
Blood: Drugs and drug metabolites in the blood can be incorporated in the hair shaft as it grows.
Environmental Exposure: When drugs such as marijuana, methamphetamine, or crack cocaine are used, drug residue and extraneous particulate drug matter in the environment –in the air and on surrounding surfaces– can be deposited on, and incorporated into, the hair.