Marijuana Use in Pregnancy Linked to Upped Odds for Autism, ADHD in Kids
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Marijuana Use in Pregnancy Linked to Upped Odds for Autism, ADHD in Kids

Key Takeaways

  • The children of women who use marijuana while pregnant appear to have a higher odds for neurodevelopmental issues like autism or ADHD

  • Women who used cannabis and smoked cigarettes passed on even higher risks to their kids

  • More must be done to educate women about the dangers, the researchers said

TUESDAY, April 9, 2024 (HealthDay News) -- There's yet another study showing that using weed during pregnancy may be harmful to offspring.

Some women may use marijuana during a pregnancy to help ease morning sickness, but the Australian study of more than 222,000 mother-child pairs shows it could be a bad move.

It found heightened odds for neurodevelopmental issues, including autism and ADHD, in kids if their mom had used marijuana while pregnant.

“This study is unique because it utilises linked data with confirmed diagnoses, providing a more robust picture of the potential risks associated with prenatal cannabis use," said Dr. Julian Beezhold, secretary general of the European Psychiatric Association.

The study was led by Abay Woday Tadesse, from Curtin University's School of Population Health, and was presented Monday at the association's annual meeting in Budapest, Hungary. Findings presented at a medical meetings should be considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.

Tadesse's group noted that today's marijuana is at least twice as potent, in terms of THC levels, compared to that of decades past.

In the new study, the researchers tracked confirmed diagnoses of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and intellectual disability among the hundreds of thousands of children studied.

They found that kids born to moms who used marijuana during pregnancy had a 98% higher odds for ADHD, and a 94% higher risk for an autism spectrum disorder, compared to the children of women without such histories.

These kids also had a 46% higher risk for developing an intellectual disability versus children whose moms did not use weed while pregnant.

The kids of women who smoked cigarettes and used marijuana while pregnant had even higher risks for a developmental disorder, the team discovered.

The findings could not prove cause and effect, but the study "underscores the critical needs for preventive measures, including preconception counseling, to mitigate the potential adverse outcomes," Tadesse said in a meeting news release.

More information

Find out more about marijuana use in pregnancy at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

SOURCE: European Psychiatric Association, news release, April 8, 2024

What This Means For You

There's more reason to avoid marijuana while pregnant: It appears linked to a higher odds for neurodevelopmental disorders in offspring.

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