Pubdate: Fri, 10 Jan 2020
Source: Minneapolis Star-Tribune (MN)
Copyright: 2020 Star Tribune
Author: Jeremy Olson


Researchers hope the findings counter recent trends of mothers using
marijuana for pregnancy-related nausea symptoms.

Researchers in Minnesota and Iowa have found greater risks of social
and emotional problems in infants whose mothers consumed marijuana
during pregnancy.

Using results of a developmental screening tool for 1-year-olds, the
researchers found that 9.1% of babies from marijuana users were at
risk, compared to 3.6% of babies whose mothers didn't consume the drug
while pregnant.

Researchers said the size of that gap was surprising, along with
screening results showing that 8% of mothers tested positive during
pregnancy for the presence of THC, the psychoactive component in
marijuana, said Dr. Elyse Kharbanda, lead researcher of the study from
the HealthPartners Institute in Bloomington, Minn. Researchers from
the universities of Minnesota and Iowa co-authored the study, which
was published in the Journal of Perinatology.

"We think it clearly is concerning," Kharbanda said.

The research was based on toxicology urine tests of 3,435 pregnant
women during prenatal checkups, and the performance of their children
around 12 months of age on a test known as ASQ: SE. The screening
assesses whether children show age-appropriate levels of
communication, compliance and self-regulation.

The results don't prove cause and effect. It's possible that women who
consume marijuana during pregnancy have other traits that cause their
children to perform poorly on developmental screenings. Women in the
study who used marijuana during pregnancy tended to be younger and
more likely to receive health insurance through Medicaid, which is
reserved for people who are poor or disabled.

When the researchers adjusted the screening results for these other
demographic factors, the gap in the children's performance fell below
the threshold for statistical significance. That means it's possible
that the gap was a statistical anomaly. However, Kharbanda said the
gap was wide enough to raise concerns, especially considering reports
that some mothers turn to marijuana during pregnancy to soothe nausea.

And while the study is the first to compare marijuana use during
pregnancy with performance on infant screening, Kharbanda said the
results are consistent with other studies that have found more
problems in older children of mothers who used the drug.

The study also found that women who used marijuana during pregnancy
were more likely to have babies born below typical birth weight, which
can lead to breathing problems and other health concerns.

While recreational and medical marijuana use is increasing, the
American Academy of Pediatrics and the American College of Obstetrics
and Gynecology discourage its use during pregnancy.
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