Tuesday, September 13, 2022

Exposure to Cannabis in Womb Associated With Behavioral Issues in Tweens, Study Finds

Children who were exposed to cannabis in the womb appear to be at a heightened risk of behavioral problems into at least early adolescence, suggests a report published Monday in JAMA Pediatrics. The findings—which are based on data collected as part of the Adolescent Brain and Cognitive Development Study (ABCD Study)—add to a growing body of evidence about the risks of cannabis use during pregnancy.

According to a media release from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, cannabis use among pregnant women increased from 3% in 2002 to 7% in 2017. In 2018, 4.7% of pregnant women reported cannabis use; 5.4% reported cannabis use in 2019.

A 2020 study by Ryan Bogdan, Ph.D., of Washington University in St Louis and colleagues found that children whose mothers used cannabis after learning they were pregnant were slightly more likely to have sleep, attention, and social problems at ages 9 and 10, among other issues. To determine if these associations remained as the children grew older, David A.A. Baranger, Ph.D., Bogdan, and colleagues followed up with these youth one and two years later. (As was done in the 2020 study, children and caregivers provided feedback on the Child Behavior Checklist and the Prodromal Questionnaire–Brief Child Version.)

The analysis included 10,631 individuals and 30,091 longitudinal assessments (baseline: n = 10,624; mean age, 9.9 years; one-year follow-up: n = 10,094; mean age, 10.9 years; two-year follow-up: n = 9,373; mean age, 12.0 years). The analysis revealed no significant changes in the rate of psychiatric conditions as the children aged.

“[Prenatal cannabis exposure] is associated with persisting vulnerability to broad-spectrum psychopathology as children progress through early adolescence,” Baranger and colleagues wrote. “Increased psychopathology may lead to greater risk for psychiatric disorders and problematic substance use as children enter peak periods of vulnerability in later adolescence.”

For related information, see the Psychiatric News article “Exposure to Alcohol, Cannabis in Womb Can Have Long-Term Consequences.”

(Image: iStock/Rocky89)

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