While hair has for some time been analyzed for assessment of trace elements and other nutrients, only in recent years has attention been focused on this matrix as a possible means of evaluating drug abuse. Detection of opiates,1-3 amphetamines,4-6 methadone,7 phencyclidine,8,9 nicotine,4,10 and cocaine1,11,12 in hair has been reported for both clinical and forensic purposes. In this issue of The Journal, Graham and colleagues13 have applied this technique to both neonatal and maternal hair for determination of cocaine exposure in utero.
While, at first glance, this practice may seem to be an efficacious one, it likely will not become standard for some time, if at all. As indicated by the authors themselves, analysis of neonatal hair will not detect exposure occurring shortly before birth, owing to insufficient time for the drug to enter the hair. In these instances, screening of neonatal urine may