TUESDAY, Sept. 13, 2022 (HealthDay News) — Prenatal cannabis exposure (PCE) is associated with persisting vulnerability to psychopathology through early adolescence, according to a research letter published online Sept. 12 in JAMA Pediatrics.

David A.A. Baranger, Ph.D., from Washington University in St. Louis, and colleagues estimated associations between maternal cannabis use during pregnancy (only before maternal knowledge of pregnancy, before and after maternal knowledge of pregnancy [BAK-PCE], and no exposure; 391, 208, and 10,032 women, respectively) and longitudinal assessments of psychopathology at baseline and one- and two-year follow-up (Child Behavior Checklist subscales; total reported psychotic-like experiences on the Prodromal Questionnaire-Brief Child Version). A total of 30,091 longitudinal assessments were available (10,624 at baseline [mean age, 9.9 years]; 10,094 at one-year follow-up [mean age, 10.9 years]; and 9,373 at two-year follow-up [mean age, 12.0 years).

The researchers found that PCE was significantly associated with persisting vulnerability to psychopathology. There was no change in the associations with age. Significant findings were mainly driven by exposure after maternal knowledge of pregnancy. When including covariates with high missingness, the results remained significant. After accounting for polygenic risk in the European ancestry subsample, the associations remained directionally consistent and of similar magnitude in the BAK-PCE group.

“Evidence that the impact of PCE on psychopathology does not ameliorate as children enter adolescence further cautions against cannabis use during pregnancy,” the authors write.

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