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Headspace solid-phase microextraction and gas chromatography−mass spectrometry for determination of cannabinoids in human breast milk

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Human milk is a highly complex biological fluid, and it is considered to be the ideal food for infants during their first months of life. On the other hand, licit and illicit substances consumed by the breastfeeding woman can pass into the milk and may cause harmful effects to the infant. Drug extraction from this matrix can be an analytical challenge due to its high protein and lipid content. Since marijuana is the most commonly used illicit drug at the global level, the aim of the present study was to develop a headspace solid-phase microextraction (HS-SPME) method for the determination of Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), cannabidiol (CBD) and cannabinol (CBN) in human breast milk using gas chromatography−mass spectrometry. The limits of detection and quantification were 10 and 20 ng/mL, respectively, for all analytes. Calibration curves were linear over a concentration range of 20.0–200 ng/mL (r 2 = 0.99). Intraday and interday precision was not greater than 13.3% (relative standard deviation), and accuracy bias ranged from 5.5 to 17.9%. One hundred and nine human milk samples were randomly collected and analyzed. Only two samples were confirmed to be THC positive at 20 and 31 ng/mL. CBD was also detected in one milk sample. The present method has shown to be reliable for determination of THC, CBD and CBN in human breast milk in a very low volume sample (0.05 mL). Also, the HS-SPME procedure was demonstrated to be a rather promising, low cost and environmental-friendly technique. In addition, the SPME is very suitable for automated extraction procedure.

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Financial support from Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado de São Paulo (FAPESP Grant No. 2014/04107-7 and Grant 2015/15700-3) and Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior (CAPES) are gratefully acknowledged. We also thank the Poison Control Center of São Paulo for sample collection.

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Correspondence to Gabriela de Oliveira Silveira.

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There are no financial or other relations that could lead to a conflict of interest.

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All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional research committee (Ethics Protocol Approval nos. 012/CEM/HMARS/2014 and CEP/FCF/732402) and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

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Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

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Silveira, G.d., Loddi, S., de Oliveira, C.D.R. et al. Headspace solid-phase microextraction and gas chromatography−mass spectrometry for determination of cannabinoids in human breast milk. Forensic Toxicol 35, 125–132 (2017).

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