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Detection of in utero cannabis exposure by umbilical cord analysis.

Kim, Jiyoung; de Castro, Ana; Lendoiro, Elena; Cruz-Landeira, Angelines; L�pez-Rivadulla, Manuel; Concheiro, Marta


Jiyoung Kim

Ana de Castro

Elena Lendoiro

Angelines Cruz-Landeira

Manuel L�pez-Rivadulla

Marta Concheiro


According to the 2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 5.3% of pregnant women smoked marijuana in the past month. This prevalence is expected to increase as a growing number of states and countries are now considering legalization. Although the umbilical cord is becoming a useful objective tool to detect in utero drug exposure, currently data about analytical methods and its utility to detect cannabis exposure are scarce. The objective of this work was to develop a method for the determination of -9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), 11-hydroxyTHC (THC-OH), 11-nor-9-carboxy-THC (THCCOOH), 8-{esc}gb{esc}s-11-dihydroxyTHC (THC-diOH), THC and THCCOOH glucuronides, and cannabidiol (CBD) in the umbilical cord by liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) with dual ionization source. Umbilical cord samples (0.5 g) were homogenized in methanol and extracted by solid-phase extraction. Reversed-phase chromatographic separation was performed in 14 minutes, and 2 transitions per analyte were monitored in multiple reaction monitoring mode. Method validation included linearity (1-10 to 20-200 ng/g), precision (4.1%-23.4%), accuracy (87.5%-111.4%), matrix effect (-54.8% to -5.8%), extraction efficiency (25%-45.6%), limits of detection and quantification (1-10 ng/g), and endogenous (n = 5) or exogenous interferences (not detected). The method was applied to 13 authentic samples from cannabis-exposed newborns, which meconium samples had tested positive for cannabis. Twelve cord specimens tested positive for THCCOOH-glucuronide (1.6-19.1 ng/g). We developed and validated a specific and sensitive method for the simultaneous determination of THC, its metabolites, including THC and THCCOOH glucuronides, and CBD in umbilical cord samples by LC-MS/MS. The analysis of authentic samples showed the usefulness of umbilical cord to detect cannabis in utero exposure.


KIM, J., DE CASTRO, A., LENDOIRO, E., CRUZ-LANDEIRA, A., LOPEZ-RIVADULLA, M. and CONCHEIRO, M. 2018. Detection of in utero cannabis exposure by umbilical cord analysis. Drug testing and analysis [online], 10(4), pages 636-643. Available from:

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Sep 13, 2017
Online Publication Date Sep 25, 2017
Publication Date Apr 30, 2018
Deposit Date Jun 26, 2018
Publicly Available Date Sep 26, 2018
Journal Drug testing and analysis
Print ISSN 1942-7603
Electronic ISSN 1942-7611
Publisher Wiley
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 10
Issue 4
Pages 636-643
Keywords Cannabis; LCMS/MS; Pregnancy; THC; Umbilical cord
Public URL


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