Use of Marijuana during pregnancy could risk autism in babies: Study

WION Web Team
New Delhi, Delhi, India Published: Aug 17, 2020, 05:51 PM(IST)

The potential effect of legalising marijuana for recreational use has been a topic of considerable debate. Photograph:( Reuters )

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"These are not reassuring findings. We highly discourage use of cannabis during pregnancy and breastfeeding," she said.

After an extensive study, researchers have found that using marijuana during pregnancy might increase the risk that a child will develop autism. 

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Dr Darine El-Chaar, who is the study author and a maternal-fetal medicine specialist and clinical investigator at Ottawa Hospital Research Institute in Canada, said: "Women who used cannabis during pregnancy were 1.5 times more likely to have a child with autism."

"These are not reassuring findings. We highly discourage use of cannabis during pregnancy and breastfeeding," she said.

According to US' Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), past studies linked the use of marijuana during pregnancy to low birth weight, impulsivity, hyperactivity, attention issues and other cognitive and behavioural issues in children.

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"Based on that, I'm not too surprised by these findings," El-Chaâr said. "Fetal brain development occurs throughout all gestational ages."

The study has been published in the journal Nature. The study was based on data of every birth in Ontario, Canada, between 2007 and 2012, which was before Canada legalized marijuana in 2017 for recreational purposes. 

The researchers narrowed down their study from half a million women to 2,200. These 2,200 women were the ones who only used marijuana during pregnancy, without mixing it with tobacco, alcohol or opioids. However, the study did not focus on the quantity and type of marijuana the women used during pregnancy nor did it focus on when during the pregnancy or how often women used it. 

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