Prenatal Exposure to Cannabis Predisposes Children to Behavioral Problems

While statistical figures of cannabis use during pregnancy has skyrocketed and is on the rise, researchers at Washington University in St. Louis, revealed for the first time, that the fetus exposure to cannabis during pregnancy leads to serious behavioral problems in children during their middle childhood. These findings were published in the Journal of JAMA Psychiatry.

As cannabis use in pregnancy is on rise, the US Surgeon General recently issued an advisory against the marijuana use during pregnancy. CDC clearly warns about using marijuana during pregnancy as it may profoundly impacts baby’s development.

Nearly 1 in 20 women in the U.S. report marijuana use during pregnancy and any chemical configuration of marijuana including eating or drinking, creams or lotions applied to skin, smoking, vaping and dabbing, significantly affect the baby.

Source: NIH

Researchers aimed to investigate and determine whether cannabis use during pregnancy is significantly linked with adverse health outcomes among offspring. Therefore, a large cross-sectional analysis of 11,489 children including over 655 children exposed to cannabis prenatally was conducted.

Source: CDC

Data used to investigate the potential outcomes was retrieved from the baseline session of the ongoing longitudinal Adolescent Brain and Cognitive Development Study, which recruited 11,875 children, average age 9-11 years, as well as a parent or caregiver, from 22 sites across the United States between June 1, 2016, and October 15, 2018.

Researchers determine the symptoms of changed or abnormal behaviors in children including, cognition, sleep, birth weight, gestational age at birth, body mass index, and brain structure. It was found that 5997 boys out of 11489 [52.2%]; mean age, 9.9 years, reported prenatal cannabis exposure data and up to 655 (5.7%) were exposed to cannabis during pregnancy. Moreover, 413 [3.6%] children before and 242 [2.1%] children after maternal knowledge of pregnancy were found to experience behavior problems later during middle childhood, such as, internalizing, externalizing, attention, thought and, social problems, sleep problems, and body mass index issues.

Sarah Paul, a clinical psychology graduate student, talked about prenatal cannabis exposure in Washington University Press release, she said, Prenatal cannabis use has skyrocketed in the past few years, with data indicating a quick rise from 3% to 7% past-month use.”

Therefore, this study emphasizes the need to address the prenatal cannabis exposure and it should be discouraged by health care professionals. It is found that cannabis prenatal exposure and its correlated factors are greatly associated with increased risk for brain damage and behavior problems during middle childhood.

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