1. Prenatal cannabis exposure was associated with increased rates of psychopathology, including rule-breaking and aggressive behaviour, at middle childhood and at early adolescence.

Evidence Rating Level: 2 (Good)

The Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development (ABCD) study is a longitudinal cohort study based in the United States, enrolling 11,880 children between the ages of 9 and 10, to follow their cognitive and behavioural development into adolescence and adulthood. This study had previously found an association at baseline with prenatal cannabis exposure (PCE) and psychopathologies, such as rule-breaking behaviour and conduct problems. The current study examined whether these associations remained in the early adolescent years, at 1 and 2 years follow-up. In the ABCD cohort, maternal cannabis consumption was reported retrospectively, either as before knowledge of pregnancy (BK-PCE), before and after knowledge (BAK-PCE), or as no exposure (NE). In total, there were 391 participants in the BK-PCE group, 208 in the BAK-PCE, and 10,032 in the NE group. The results showed that the associations with PCE and psychopathology persisted into early adolescence, not changing with age, and being driven mostly by PCE after knowledge of pregnancy. For instance, the rates for total problems on the child behavioural check list (CBCL) were 23.41% for the BAK-PCE group, 19.66% for the BK-PCE group, and 15.55% for the NE group, leading to p < 0.001 when comparing BAK-PCE to NE and comparing BAK-PCE to BK-PCE, but leaving no significant difference (p = 0.29) when comparing BK-PCE to NE. This pattern was also seen for externalizing factors, rule-breaking behaviour, aggressive behaviour, and social problems. Overall, this study demonstrated that associations between PCE and psychopathology are present in middle childhood and can persist to early adolescence as well.

Click to read the study in JAMA Pediatrics

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