Doctor now says baby boy did not die from marijuana overdose
A Colorado doctor who wrote a case report with a colleague detailing the death of an 11-month-old baby after he was exposed to cannabis is now saying the infant did not die from an overdose.
"We are absolutely not saying that marijuana killed that child," Dr. Thomas Nappe told the Washington Post on Thursday.
Nappe, and his colleague, Dr. Christopher Hoyte, published a study in the journal "Clinical Practice and Cases in Emergency Medicine" about a young patient who was rushed to the emergency room after having a seizure.
Nappe and Hoyte wrote that the baby was "lethargic" and had been retching in the days leading up to his hospitalization. They said the baby, who was not identified, was otherwise healthy before the incident.
The baby later died at the hospital.
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An autopsy revealed that the infant had myocarditis, a condition which causes the heart muscles to become inflamed and stop working. Nappe and Hoyte also wrote that tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the main psychoactive ingredient in cannabis, was found in the baby's blood and urine.
Usually, a virus or bacteria causes myocarditis, but the doctors stated in their report that the baby had no viruses or bacterial infections.
"Autopsy findings in this patient were consistent with noninfectious myocarditis as a cause of death. ... The presence of THC metabolites in the patient's urine and serum, most likely secondary to ingestion, is the only uncovered risk factor in the etiology for his myocarditis," the report read.
"A possible relationship exists between cannabis exposure in this child and myocarditis leading to death."
According to KUSA, Hoyte said he and Nappe tried to find other causes for the boy's heart condition but could not find anything.
"The only thing that we found was marijuana. High concentrations of marijuana in his blood. And that's the only thing we found," Hoyte said. "The kid never really got better. And just one thing led to another and the kid ended up with a heart stopped. And the kid stopped breathing and died."
The report also said that it was "the first reported pediatric death associated with cannabis exposure."
Nappe, however, told the Washington Post that the word "associated" does not necessarily indicate there was a cause and effect.