Higher Risk of Psychoses If Mother Used Cannabis During Pregnancy

Women who use marijuana during pregnancy run a greater risk of having children who develop psychotic-like behaviors, a study from Washington University in St. Louis says.

The “Adolescent Brain and Cognitive Development Study” published Wednesday on the JAMA Network Open website’s JAMA Psychiatry comes after a study in 2019 found marijuana use by pregnant women more than doubled between 2002 and 2017 – from 3.4% to 7%.

The JAMA study analyzed data on 11,489 children between the ages of 9 and 11 across the United States from 2016 and 2018.

Researchers counted 655 children who were exposed to marijuana in the womb, which they suggested was low since the study was self-reported. Children whose mothers had used marijuana during pregnancy were more likely to have psychotic-like behaviors and more attention, social and sleep problems, as well as weaker cognitive abilities.

“This study suggests that prenatal cannabis exposure and its correlated factors are associated with greater risk for psychopathology during middle childhood,” the study’s authors wrote. “Cannabis use during pregnancy should be discouraged.”

One of the study’s authors, associate professor of psychological and brain sciences at Washington University Ryan Bogdan, linked marijuana to a stage of fetal development.

“One of the interesting things about that is that the time that mothers learn they’re pregnant in this study was around seven weeks, which roughly corresponds to when endocannabinoid type-1 receptors are first expressed in the brain,” Bogdan told Insider.

“Much of the prior work that has looked at prenatal marijuana exposure has looked at things like infant motor behavior and sleep and birth weight. There have been relatively few studies that have looked at later outcomes in childhood.”

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