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Hair Exposure Testing (ChildGuard®)

When a child is exposed to illegal substance abuse they often face other coexisting obstacles to a normal life – neglect, abuse, violence, and other vulnerabilities. Substance abuse is a disease, one that often prevents adults from doing what is in a child’s best interest. Detecting these dangerous environments is paramount to keeping the child safe. Testing with ChildGuard® can assist, where other exposure drug tests fall short.

ChildGuard® is the only drug test designed to detect passive exposure to drugs, distinguishing between both native drugs and drug metabolites in hair specimens. Drug metabolites are produced in the body only if drugs have been ingested. Children in drug exposed environments are most often not drug users themselves, so drug metabolites are typically absent when a child is being tested for drug exposure. Typical hair tests with other labs will only report a positive exposure result if drug metabolites are detected, even when the native drug is in the child’s hair specimen. ChildGuard® reports a positive result if either native drugs or drug metabolites are detected, giving much better insight about the child’s environment. ChildGuard® can provide evidence of substance use in a child’s environment for the past 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 drug smoke,
  • Contact with sweat or sebum (skin oil) of a drug user,
  • Contact with the actual drug,
  • Accidental or intentional ingestion of the drug(s).

Our forensic test for passive exposure is the first and only test of its kind. See our hair testing pages for information about specimen collection.

Drug Panels

  • 9 Panel
  • 7 Panel
  • 5 Panel
Amphetamines
amphetamine, MDA, MDMA, methamphetamine
Cannabinoids
carboxy-THC, native-THC
Cocaine
benzoylecgonine, cocaethylene, cocaine, norcocaine
Opiates
6-MAM, codeine, hydrocodone, hydromorphone, morphine
Phencyclidine
phencyclindine (PCP)
Benzodiazepines
alprazolam, diazepam, midazolam, nordiazepam, oxazepam, temazepam
Barbiturates
amobarbital, butalbital, pentobarbital, phenobarbital, secobarbital
Methadone
EDDP, methadone
Propoxyphene
norpropoxyphene
*Click the green and white plus sign beside each drug class to view the substances within each class.

Collection

Collection Instructions
Client Services

By Phone: 1.800.235.2367

Business Hours (CST)

Monday 6am-8pm
Tuesday 6am-8pm
Wednesday 6am-8pm
Thursday 6am-8pm
Friday 6am-8pm
Saturday 8am-5pm

Contact Client Services

Testing Details

Panel Name: Hair Exposure Testing (ChildGuard®)

Panel Description: Hair Exposure Testing (ChildGuard®) Drug Panel

Type: Profile

Matrix: Hair

Collection Container: Foil in Secure Envelope

Sample Amount: 100 mg = 200 strands @ 1.5 inches  (We recommend weighing the specimen on a jeweler’s scale.)

Storage Conditions: Room Temperature

Transport Conditions: Ambient

Method: Initial screen and confirmation

Turnaround Time: Generally, the standard turnaround time for reporting negative screening test results is the next business day, with an additional 1-2 business days for specimens that require confirmatory testing. Turnaround time begins from receipt of the valid specimen –accompanied by a properly documented valid order– into the laboratory. Some tests require additional time to process and will fall outside the standard turnaround time window.

  • References
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Can a hair test be manipulated by the donor?

Yes. Bleaching, perming, dyeing and straightening can affect the outcome of a hair test. Cosmetically treated hair should not be collected.

Can a hair test be used to prove that a previously taken urine test was inaccurate?

No. The results of any second collected specimen have absolutely no bearing on the validity of the results of the first collected specimen. Furthermore, each matrix has its own advantages, disadvantages and limits of interpretation.

Can a hair test determine how much or how often someone is using a drug?

No. Hair is a reservoir matrix, where drugs can collect and/or degrade over time. When testing any reservoir matrix, you are unable to back-track and determine time, dosage or frequency because there are simply too many variables involved.

Can someone test positive in hair because of passive or environmental exposure?

Yes, drugs are incorporated into hair by three major routes: environmental exposure, sweat and sebum from the scalp and blood flow through the follicle. Environmental exposure however will only generate a positive for the parent drug. Example: methamphetamine only. The other two mechanisms lay down drug and drug metabolites. Example: amphetamine/methamphetamine positive.

Does race make a difference in hair testing results?

Hair color, not race, is one of the most important variables in determining the quantity of drug found in the hair. Dark hair binds drug tighter than light hair.

Does the sample need to be frozen?

No, the sample may be shipped ambient.

Have results been used in court cases?

Yes, the analysis of a number of tissue types for the presence of drugs of abuse has been used in every state for decades. Specifically, our umbilical cord testing has been used to provide evidence of drug use by the mother in numerous states. Additionally, the detection of drug in umbilical cord was used as evidence of maternal drug consumption in a murder case in South Carolina and that interpretation was upheld on appeal to the SC Supreme Court.

How long can drugs be detected in head hair?

Once a drug is incorporated into hair, it begins to slowly leach out due to normal daily hygiene and exposure to the elements. Most drugs have disappeared by three months. Furthermore, the laboratory only analyzes the first 1.5 inches (3.9 centimeters) nearest the scalp. Hair grows at an average rate of 0.5 inches per month.

Why are both ethyl sulfate (EtS) and ethyl glucuronide (EtG) included in urine testing for alcohol use, but only EtG in fingernail or hair testing?

A: For urine testing, it is standard practice in the field of toxicology to include both EtS and EtG, because EtG is subject to bacterial production and degradation if a urine sample is contaminated (e.g. when the donor has a urinary tract infection). EtS is not subject to bacterial production or degradation, and provides a second, more reliable alcohol biomarker in these urine contamination scenarios. Other specimens types, such as fingernails and hair, do not have this issue, so only EtG is measured in those sample types.

What does a positive hair test result mean?

The only interpretation that can come from a positive hair test is that the individual used or was exposed to drug during the three months prior to collection.

What is Child Hair Testing, and how is it different from regular hair drug tests?

Child Hair and Nail Testing are a modified hair and nail drug tests designed to increase environmental exposure detection in children. The assays are often used by social service agencies involved in custody cases.

Why do we test for EtG in hair and not FAEE?

FAEE is less sensitive and can produce false positives. Hairspray and other hair products can produce FAEEs in hair. There is no enzyme in our hair that can create ETG from those products.

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1.800.235.2367

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