The research letter, published this month in the journal JAMA Pediatrics, was motivated by a desire to learn more about the potential effects and to fill an ongoing research gap that exists in part due to the federal prohibition on marijuana.
“Dramatic increases in cannabis use during pregnancy are alarming because of evidence that prenatal exposure may be associated with a host of adverse outcomes. We previously found that prenatal cannabis exposure (PCE) following maternal knowledge of pregnancy is associated with increased psychopathology during middle childhood using baseline data from the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development (ABCD) study. Here, leveraging longitudinal ABCD study data (data release 4.0), we examined whether associations with psychopathology persist into early adolescence,” the researchers wrote in their introduction.
The research is based on findings gathered in the the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development (ABCD) study, which ran for a decade and examined the behavior and development of thousands of children.
The website Leafly
“They then used longitudinal assessments from the first two years of data, between June 2016 and October 2018, as well as annual follow-ups in 2019 and 2020,” Leafly
Ultimately, the research letter concluded that there could be a link between
Understanding the Use of Cannabis During Pregnancy is Still Emerging
The lead author of the research letter, Dr. David Baranger of Washington University in St. Louis, told Leafly that she believes her team unfurled a “hint that cannabis may have some negative consequences for a person’s offspring.”
But Baranger acknowledged that the research is anything but perfect.
“You have a questionnaire that is asking people about their drug use when they’re pregnant. And it was ‘were you using a drug, including cannabis’ — and cannabis was a sub-question — ‘when you learned you were pregnant?’ Then ‘upon learning you are pregnant, did you or did you not stop using those drugs?’ That’s our measure of cannabis use,” says Baranger, “which is super imperfect. Are they going to remember how much cannabis they were using? Maybe? Maybe not. And they didn’t really ask that question,” Baranger told Leafly.
There is compelling reason to learn more about the effect of prenatal cannabis use. A
“Our previous research has shown that the prevalence and frequency of prenatal cannabis use is increasing over time and that pregnant women are more likely to use cannabis if they are depressed, anxious, or have experienced trauma. It’s very possible that more pregnant women are using cannabis in an attempt to self-medicate these issues during the pandemic,”