New Study Reveals Strong Link Between Prenatal Cannabis Use Disorder and Neurodevelopmental Disorders in Offspring

by Ella

A groundbreaking study presented at the European Psychiatric Association Congress 2024 has shed light on a concerning association between prenatal cannabis use disorder (CUD) and increased risks of neurodevelopmental disorders, including attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), autism spectrum disorder (ASD), and intellectual disability (ID) in children. Conducted by researchers at Curtin University in Australia, the study analyzed data from over 222,000 mother-offspring pairs in New South Wales, revealing alarming insights into the potential consequences of prenatal cannabis exposure on offspring neurodevelopment.


Key Findings:

Children born to mothers with prenatal CUD exhibited a 98% increased risk of ADHD, a 94% increased risk of ASD, and a 46% increased risk of ID compared to offspring without such exposure.


The study identified significant interaction effects between prenatal CUD and maternal smoking, with children born to mothers who used cannabis during pregnancy and smoked exhibiting an even higher risk of neurodevelopmental disorders.


Synergistic effects were observed between prenatal CUD and other pregnancy complications, such as low birth weight and premature birth, further elevating the risk of neurodevelopmental disorders in offspring.


These findings underscore the critical need for heightened awareness and preventive measures to mitigate the adverse effects of prenatal cannabis exposure on offspring neurodevelopment.

In light of the rising prevalence of cannabis use among women, particularly during pregnancy, concerns about potential risks to maternal and child health have intensified. The study’s lead researcher, Abay Woday Tadesse, emphasized the importance of preconception counseling and preventive measures to address the increased risk of neurodevelopmental disorders associated with prenatal cannabis use.

Professor Rosa Alati, the senior author of the study, highlighted the significance of public health education campaigns and clinical interventions to raise awareness about the potential risks of cannabis use during pregnancy. By providing women with accurate information and support, healthcare professionals can empower them to make informed decisions for their health and the well-being of their children.

Dr. Julian Beezhold, the Secretary General of the European Psychiatric Association, underscored the study’s unique contribution, emphasizing the robustness of the findings derived from linked data with confirmed diagnoses. He emphasized the importance of ongoing efforts to educate the public and support women in making informed choices regarding cannabis use during pregnancy.

In conclusion, the study’s findings underscore the urgent need for proactive measures to address the risks associated with prenatal cannabis exposure. By prioritizing awareness, education, and support, healthcare systems can work towards safeguarding maternal and child health and promoting optimal neurodevelopmental outcomes for future generations.


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