Senior study author Mark. Splaingard, MD, reports, “Our findings highlight and support the important step of obtaining a urine drug screen, in any patients older than 13 years of age, before accepting test findings consistent with narcolepsy, prior to physicians confirming this diagnosis.”
The director of the Sleep Disorders Center at Nationwide Children’s Hospital goes on to say,”Urine drug screening is also important in any population studies looking at the prevalence of narcolepsy in adolescents, especially with the recent trend in marijuana decriminalization and legalization.”
The research actually looked back over 10 years of study to determine the potential for increased risk for sleepiness from marijuana use. Diagnosing a condition like narcolepsy (suddenly falling asleep) usually involves a lengthy clinical evaluation of daytime sleepiness followed by a standard sleep test, but studies have also shown that drugs can alter this.
Dr. Splaingard, who is also a faculty member with the Ohio State University College of Medicine, continues, “We believe that many of the children who had positive urine drug testing for marijuana and testing consistent with narcolepsy had improvement of the symptom of excessive day time sleepiness after enrollment in a community drug program, because most didn’t come back for repeat diagnostic studies once they were drug-free.”
Furthermore, Splaingard extends, “A key finding of this study is that marijuana use may be associated with excessive daytime sleepiness in some teenagers. A negative urine drug screen finding is an important part of the clinical evaluation before accepting a diagnosis of narcolepsy and starting treatment in a teenager.”