A groundbreaking study presented at the European Psychiatric Association Congress 2024, unveiled disturbing findings relating to the impacts of marijuana use by pregnant mothers. This research linked such usage to various neurodevelopmental disorders, including attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and intellectual disability (ID) in kids. Unlike previous studies reliant on self-reported data, this study dived into health registries examining confirmed diagnoses of prenatal marijuana addiction (otherwise known as cannabis use disorder or CUD) and the specified neurodevelopmental disorders using diagnostic tools based on the ISD-10-AM to capture a more reliable assessment of the risks associated with marijuana use during pregnancy.

Conducted by researchers at Curtin University in Australia, they scrutinized over 222,000 mother-child pairs in New South Wales, Australia and found that children born to mothers with diagnosed marijuana addiction during pregnancy exhibit a:

  • 98 percent increased risk of ADHD,
  • 94 percent increased risk of autism, and
  • 46 percent increased risk of intellectual disability compared to children whose mothers did not have a CUD during pregnancy.

Researchers noted a stronger risk for these neurodevelopmental conditions when mothers also smoked during pregnancy. They also found a combined impact between prenatal CUD and other pregnancy complications such as low birth weight and premature birth, amplifying the risk of neurodevelopmental disorders in kids.

Dr. Julian Beezhold, the Secretary General of the European Psychiatric Association, emphasized the study’s uniqueness, offering a more comprehensive understanding of the potential risks associated with prenatal marijuana use. He also stressed the need for public health education campaigns and clinical interventions.

Recognizing the growing prevalence of marijuana use among pregnant women and the heightened potency of THC, which escalates the risks associated with its use during pregnancy, Drug Free America Foundation has launched an educational project dedicated to marijuana and pregnancy. For comprehensive resources, we invite you to explore our dedicated webpage for this project: https://www.marijuanaknowthetruth.org/marijuana-and-pregnancy/.  This website provides access to downloadable resources, fact-based research, videos from subject matter experts, shareable social media content, and more available in multiple languages.