Prenatal exposure to cannabis was associated with an increased risk of neuropsychological disorders, including anxiety and depression, in children. The risk increases as they enter adolescence and adulthood.
This is according to research from the Department of Psychological Brain Sciences' BRAIN Lab, led by Ryan Bogdan, associate professor of Arts & Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis.
The findings, published Monday, September 12, 2022 in the Journal of the American Medical Association, Pediatrics, follow on from a 2020 study from the Bogdan lab that found that younger children who had been exposed to cannabis prenatally were slightly more likely to be under have other sleep problems, lower birth weight, and lower cognitive performance.
In both cases, the effect is strongest when looking at exposure to cannabis after the pregnancy was known. To determine whether these associations persisted as the children got older, David Baranger, a postdoctoral researcher in the BRAIN Lab, returned to the more than 10.500 children from the 2020 analysis. They were 2020 years old on average in 10.
Disorders caused by cannabis still active after years
The data on the children and their mothers came from the Adolescent Brain and Cognitive Development Study (ABCD Study), an ongoing survey of nearly 12.000 children, starting when they were 9-10 years old, and their parent or caregiver. The study, which is funded by the National Institutes of Health and their federal partners, began in 2016, when participants were enrolled at 22 sites across the United States.
This seemingly small change in age — from 10 to 12 — is an important one. “During the first wave, they were just kids. Now they are approaching adolescence,” Baranger said. “We know that this is a period that can have a big impact on the mental health. "
An analysis of the more recent data showed no significant changes in the rate of psychiatric illness as the children grew older; they remain at greater risk for clinical psychiatric disorders and problem substance use as they enter adolescence.
"Once they're 14 or 15, we expect a further increase in mental disorders or other psychiatric conditions — increases that will continue into the early XNUMXs in the children," Baranger said.
Source: neurosciencenews.com (EN)