AUG 10, 2020 3:33 PM PDT

Cannabis Use During Pregnancy Linked to Autism

WRITTEN BY: Annie Lennon

Researchers from The Ottawa Hospital in Ontario, Canada, have found that children born to mothers who used cannabis while pregnant are more likely to have autism than children born to mothers who did not use the substance while pregnant. Given the legalization of recreational cannabis in many jurisdictions, the study raises concerns over the potential adverse outcomes of prenatal exposure. 

For the study, the researchers reviewed medical records of over 500,000 births in Ontario between April 2007 and March 2012. In total, they reported that 0.6% of the mothers studied used cannabis during pregnancy. Meanwhile, 1.4% of children studied were diagnosed with autism. This figure increased to 2.2% if their mother had smoked cannabis during pregnancy. 

When controlling for various other factors, the researchers found that 4 in 1000 children born to mothers who used cannabis during pregnancy had autism. In contrast, the same figure was just 2.42 out of 1000 for unexposed children. The researchers also found a link between intellectual disability and learning disorders in children whose mothers used cannabis during pregnancy. 

Although interesting findings, especially given the large sample size, the researchers warn that their study does not prove that cannabis use during pregnancy causes autism. Rather, they say that their findings suggest an association between the factors. This comes especially as how much cannabis was consumed, how often, and at what stage of pregnancy was not recorded.

Nevertheless, the findings may be significant enough to encourage pregnant women to exercise caution when using cannabis. This may especially be the case given recent findings showing that women who consume cannabis while pregnant have a higher risk of premature birth, and delivering babies with low birth weight. 

"We know so little about how cannabis affects pregnant women and their babies," says Dr. Mark Walker, one of the study's authors. "Parents-to-be should inform themselves of the possible risks, and we hope studies like ours can help."

 

Sources: CTV NewsNature

About the Author
  • Science writer with keen interests in technology and behavioral biology. Her current focus is on the interplay between these fields to create meaningful interactions, applications and environments.
You May Also Like
AUG 25, 2020
Cannabis Sciences
FDA Approves Cannabis Drug to Treat Rare Genetic Disease
AUG 25, 2020
FDA Approves Cannabis Drug to Treat Rare Genetic Disease
The US Food and Drug Administration has approved Epidiolex, a cannabidiol (CBD) oral solution, to treat seizures linked ...
OCT 25, 2020
Health & Medicine
Over 4 in 10 People With MS Have Used Cannabis in the Last Year
OCT 25, 2020
Over 4 in 10 People With MS Have Used Cannabis in the Last Year
University of Michigan researchers have found that Americans with Multiple sclerosis (MS) are twice as likely as the gen ...
NOV 15, 2020
Cannabis Sciences
Cannabis Almost 25% Stronger Now than 50 Years Ago
NOV 15, 2020
Cannabis Almost 25% Stronger Now than 50 Years Ago
Researchers from the University of Bath in England have found that cannabis has increased in strength by up to 25% in th ...
DEC 01, 2020
Cannabis Sciences
CBD Does Not Effect Driving Ability, THC Wears Off in 4 Hours
DEC 01, 2020
CBD Does Not Effect Driving Ability, THC Wears Off in 4 Hours
Researchers from the Lambert Initiative at the University of Sydney, have found that cannabidiol, a medically active com ...
DEC 28, 2020
Cannabis Sciences
Does Cannabis Affect Stress in Men and Women Differently?
DEC 28, 2020
Does Cannabis Affect Stress in Men and Women Differently?
Researchers from Washington State University have found that cannabis may blunt the stress response differently in males ...
JAN 09, 2021
Cannabis Sciences
Cannabis Use Does not Increase Risk of Heart Disease
JAN 09, 2021
Cannabis Use Does not Increase Risk of Heart Disease
Previous studies on how cannabis affects cardiovascular health have delivered mixed results. Now, from a study of over 5 ...
Loading Comments...