Prenatal pot exposure was found to be associated with attention, social and behavioural problems in 11 and 12-year-olds, according to new research by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).
“These conditions may put these children at a greater risk of mental health disorders and substance use in late adolescence, when youth are typically most vulnerable to these disorders and behaviours,” reads an NIH statement on Monday.
The new study by researchers at Washington University was published in the JAMA Pediatrics journal on Monday and was funded by the United States’ National Institute of Health.
Results for the study were drawn out from the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development (ABCD) study, which is the most extensive long-term study of brain development and child health in the United States.
The study found that exposure to cannabis during pregnancy after the first trimester may increase the risk of mental health disorders and substance use in late adolescence.
Preclinical studies on THC have shown that it can cross the placenta and potentially affect brain development.
Other studies found using the data from the ABCD Study showed that there is also an association between prenatal exposure and behavioral problems in children 9-10 years of age.
The authors say the results of this new analysis further support caution against using cannabis during pregnancy.
The ABCD study is the most extensive long-term study of child and adolescent brain development
The ABCD study tracks nearly 12,000 youth as they grow older and how their brain structure changes over time. Researchers use magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to collect psychological, environmental and cognitive information about the participants.
The study is led by Yale University researcher Betty Jo Casey and is supported by nine other institutes, centers and offices of the NIH.
“The ABCD Study seeks to understand the factors that influence brain, cognitive, and social-emotional development, with the ultimate goal of providing actionable information to help educators, health professionals, and policymakers improve the lives of all children, today and for generations to come,” reads a statement by the NIH.
Previous studies, found that cannabis use among pregnant women increased from 3 per cent in 2002 to 7 per cent in 2017. In 2018, 4.7 per cent of pregnant women reported cannabis use and 5.4 per cent did in 2019, according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health.