Medical Science

Associations Between Prenatal Cannabis Exposure and Childhood Outcomes

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Date: September 23, 2020

A recent publication in the  Journal of the American Medical Association – Psychiatry (JAMA Psychiatry,  September 23, 2020) detailed a study from the University of Washington (St. Louis, MO) by authors S.E. Paul ( regarding the prenatal exposure to  marijuana and later adverse childhood outcomes.

The report concluded that the prenatal exposure to marijuana (cannabis) to an unborn child had associations to mental and developmental disorders in some children ( average age = 10 years). Of the 11,875 children (ages 9 – 11) involved in the study, 655 were identified (5.5%) as being exposed to cannabis prior to birth. When compared to those children not exposed prenatally (10,834), the exposure group reported higher incidents of psychotic-like experiences, problems with cognitive functions and increased social problems. Those not exposed showed higher cognition functions, fewer problems related to  attention and  a higher birth weight. 

The authors cite the need for additional studies of these types as initial evidence would suggest that prenatal exposure to marijuana may place a child at risk for adverse health and general life outcomes. Stressing the point made by the U.S. Surgeon General (VADM J. Adams – August 2019) that marijuana use in adolescence or during pregnancy, should be avoided due to potential future health risks.