Parenting Resources

Prenatal Marijuana Exposure Negatively Affects Toddlers and Preschoolers

Two longitudinal studies are following children and adolescents who were exposed to marijuana prenatally.  The Ottowa Prenatal Prospective Study (OPPS) have followed a cohort of patients since 1978 and found that marijuana exposure was associated with lower scores in verbal reasoning and memory tasks in 4 year old children. Scher MS, Richardson GA, et al. The effects of prenatal alcohol and marijuana exposure: disturbances in neonatal sleep cycling and arousal. Pediatr Res. 1988;24(1):101–105pmid:3412843

The other prospective study found similar results, with children at 3 and 4 years of age showing deficits in executive functioning as well as poor memory and lower verbal skills.

Day NL, Richardson GA, Goldschmidt L, et al.  Effect of prenatal marijuana exposure on the cognitive development of offspring at age three. Neurotoxicol Teratol. 1994;16(2):169–175pmid:8052191

Even more important – children less than 9 years of age are at risk for accidental marijuana ingestion when it is present in the homeIn Colorado, there was a dramatic increase in emergency room visits for children who had accidentally ingested marijuana after Colorado legalized recreational marijuana.  (Wang GS, Le Lait MC, et al.  Unintentional Pediatric Exposures to Marijuana in Colorado, 2009-2015.  JAMA Pediatrics  2016;170(9):e160971

This same increase in accidental marijuana ingestion has been noted in other states after legalization of marijuana.  And, in France, even though marijuana is illegal, there was a 133% increase over an 11 year period of children who experienced unintentional marijuana intoxication.

Dr. Wang, a pediatric toxicologist in Colorado noted that children who ingested marijuana in states where marijuana was legal had more severe symptoms and were more likely to require care in an intensive care unit compared with children who ingested marijuana in states where the drug was illegal.

The availability of ingestible marijuana products, especially those that are attractively packaged contribute to the increased risk for children.

For more information:

Hazards of Marijuana Use in...