AUG 21, 2021 9:30 AM PDT

Teenage Cannabis Link to Poorer Birth Outcomes Two Decades Later

WRITTEN BY: Angela Dowden

A new study suggests that females and males who were frequent users of cannabis while teenagers are more likely to became parents to children born preterm and underweight.

The research, published in Scientific Reports, was a collaboration between the University of Bristol, in the UK, and Murdoch Children's Research Institute in Parkville, Australia.

The prospective study involved an Australian cohort of 665 individuals who were recruited to the study when they were in high school and followed up regularly until they started having children in their late 20s and 30s. It is the first study to explore associations between pre-conception substance use and future birth outcomes.

The results revealed that 20 percent of all preterm births in the study occurred in parents who had used cannabis daily during their teenage years.

Of the offspring whose parents reported daily cannabis use at age 15–17, a quarter were born either preterm birth or low birth weight — a frequency six times higher than in those who did not use cannabis. 

Research already indicates that cannabis use by pregnant women can result in a smaller baby, but this new study suggests there could be residual effects from cannabis use twenty or more years earlier.

This investigation was unusual in including both mothers and fathers of the babies. As the researchers write in their discussion, this is worthy of note, as men are largely left out of health messaging regarding substance use and birth outcomes, which usually focuses only on antenatal tobacco and alcohol use in women.

Dr Lindsey Hines, corresponding author at the University of Bristol, said that the findings provide “additional motivation” for making sure that cannabis legalisation policies don’t inadvertently encourage use of the drug too early in life.

“There is already evidence that frequent adolescent cannabis use increases the risks for poor mental health, but our results indicate there may be further effects that individuals may not anticipate,” she said.

However, the effect on offspring was limited to those who had only used cannabis at the highest level — i.e., daily for a period between the ages of 15 and 17. Those who only used cannabis occasionally were not significantly more likely to have a preterm or low birth weight child.

Sources: Nature.com, Science Daily

About the Author
  • I'm a journalist and author with many year's experience of writing for both a consumer and professional audience, mostly on nutrition, health and medical prescribing. My background is food science and I'm a registered nutritionist.
You May Also Like
SEP 25, 2021
Health & Medicine
Mapping the Spread of COVID-19 in Africa Using Genomics
SEP 25, 2021
Mapping the Spread of COVID-19 in Africa Using Genomics
After a year-long study, researchers have assembled a detailed narrative about how the SARS-Cov-2 virus has spread on th ...
OCT 01, 2021
Microbiology
Understanding How the Gut Microbiome is Affected by Temperature
OCT 01, 2021
Understanding How the Gut Microbiome is Affected by Temperature
The gut microbiome has become an area of intense research focus in recent years. Genomic tools have enabled scientists t ...
OCT 12, 2021
Health & Medicine
A New Way of Administering Deep Brain Stimulation May Increase Therapeutic Effect Duration in Parkinson's Disease
OCT 12, 2021
A New Way of Administering Deep Brain Stimulation May Increase Therapeutic Effect Duration in Parkinson's Disease
  Parkinson’s Disease (PD) is a specific type of neurological disorder that can significantly impact a p ...
OCT 17, 2021
Technology
AI: The Future of Medtech
OCT 17, 2021
AI: The Future of Medtech
Artificial intelligence (AI) is driving disruption in almost every sector with even the most passing involvement with IT ...
OCT 14, 2021
Neuroscience
Oh, The Good Old Days! Nostalgia May Help Us Through Hard Times
OCT 14, 2021
Oh, The Good Old Days! Nostalgia May Help Us Through Hard Times
Researchers find nostalgia improves happiness
OCT 17, 2021
Cardiology
Flu Vaccination Significantly Reduces Risk of Cardiac Events
OCT 17, 2021
Flu Vaccination Significantly Reduces Risk of Cardiac Events
The flu has been associated with a significantly increased risk of a cardiac event like heart attack or stroke.
Loading Comments...