Associations Between Prenatal Cannabis Exposure and Childhood Outcomes

As cannabis becomes increasingly legalized and its use among pregnant women is documented more and more frequently in the US, an urgent need to understand whether cannabis use during pregnancy is associated with adverse health outcomes for the children arises. To address this question, clinical researchers and physicians at the Washington University in St. Louis conducted a large scale study. In this study, data were obtained from 11,875 children aged 9 to 11 years as well as their parents or caregivers from 22 sites across the US. Among these childrens, 655 (5.7%) were exposed to cannabis prenatally.

A wide and inclusive range of health outcomes were tracked in these children, including abnormal psychological symptoms (such as psychotic-like experiences, attention, thought, and social problems), sleep, cognition, birth weight, body mass index, brain structure, and more. Findings were alarming: Exposure to cannabis after the mother learned of her pregnancy was significantly associated with adverse effects in all measured health outcomes for the offspring. In other words, cannabis exposure before birth likely has lasting negative impacts on a child’s physical and mental health throughout childhood. For this reason, cannabis use during pregnancy should be discouraged.


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