Prenatal Cannabis Exposure Tied to Mental Health Problems in Adolescence

James Eaton

Cannabis publicity in the course of pregnancy was involved with an elevated possibility of psychopathology into adolescence, especially if exposure ongoing later on into the being pregnant, according to longitudinal results from the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Improvement (ABCD) review.

Amongst in excess of 10,000 youngsters, prenatal hashish exposure (PCE) was related with “persisting vulnerability” to psychopathology throughout early adolescence in contrast with no prenatal publicity (P=.004), noted David Baranger, PhD, of Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, and colleagues.

These results were generally driven by conditions exactly where cannabis publicity ongoing even after maternal understanding of being pregnant, probably due to the timing of cannabinoid receptor neural expression, they famous in JAMA Pediatrics.

“Improved psychopathology may possibly guide to larger danger for psychiatric diseases and problematic substance use as small children enter peak intervals of vulnerability in later adolescence,” Baranger and crew wrote.

Among the psychopathologies that were drastically associated with PCE were being rule-breaking conduct (P<0.001), aggressive behavior (P=0.007), social problems (P<0.001), thought problems (P<0.001), attention problems (P<0.001), and conduct problems (P<0.001).

The current findings are in line with previous findings from the ABCD study from 2020, which showed that kids exposed to cannabis in utero were at greater risk for psychopathology during middle childhood.

“During the first wave, they were just children. Now they’re edging up on adolescence,” said Baranger in a press release. “We know this is a period when a large proportion of mental health diagnoses occur.”

“Once they hit 14 or 15, we’re expecting to see further increases in mental health disorders or other psychiatric conditions — increases that will continue into the kids’ early 20s,” he added.

Of note, during the COVID-19 pandemic, cannabis use during the early stages of pregnancy increased by 25%. Previous research had also shown that women are more likely to use cannabis in pregnancy if they are depressed, anxious, or have experienced trauma.

For this study, data were collected at baseline from June 2016 to October 2018 and at two follow-up points at 1 year and 2 years for 10,631 kids.

Cannabis exposure was put into three categories: use only before maternal knowledge of pregnancy (BK-PCE), continued use after maternal knowledge of pregnancy (BAK-PCE), and no exposure (NE).

A total of 391 participants were in the BK-PCE group, 208 were in the BAK-PCE group, and 10,032 were in the NE group. Collectively, 81% self-reported as white and 22% self-reported as African American. Baseline mean age was 9.9 years, while mean age at 1-year follow-up was 10.9, and 12.0 at 2-year follow-up.

The authors used the Child Behavior Checklist subscales and the Prodromal Questionnaire-Brief Child Version to assess psychopathology.

The associations did not change with age (false discovery rate [FDR]-corrected P>.11). Success also remained FDR-significant when together with covariates with superior missingness, such as pregnancy-associated covariates like maternal age at beginning and prepared being pregnant, besides for psychotic-like ordeals (FDR-corrected P=.13). In addition, associations remained directionally steady and of equivalent magnitude in the BAK-PCE team right after accounting for polygenic possibility in the European ancestry subsample, Baranger and colleagues reported.

The modest sample sizing of prenatal hashish-uncovered offspring was a limitation to the research, they acknowledged. Other constraints bundled potential underreporting of hashish use all through pregnancy inexact information on the timing, frequency, and potency of cannabis exposure and a deficiency of facts on particular probable confounders, these kinds of as maternal pressure all through pregnancy.

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    James Lopilato is a staff writer for Medpage Right now. He addresses a wide variety of matters being explored in present-day health care science study.


The Adolescent Mind Cognitive Development analyze was funded by the NIH.

The review authors documented no conflicts of desire.

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