Research has shown that some babies born to women who used marijuana during their pregnancies display altered responses to visual stimuli, increased tremulousness, and a high-pitched cry, which may indicate problems with neurological development. During the preschool years, marijuana exposed children have been observed to perform tasks involving sustained attention and memory more poorly than nonexposed children do. In the school years, these children are more likely to exhibit deficits in problem-solving skills, memory, and the ability to remain attentive.
There is some evidence that women who use marijuana during pregnancy are more likely to give birth to babies with lower birth weight, delayed commencement of breathing, an increase in features similar to those found in foetal alcohol syndrome, exaggerated startle response, tremors, poorer eye-sight, poorer ability to adapt to new aspects of the environment, and a “hole in the heart” (ventricular septal defect).
Other studies have found that in the first six months of life, babies who have been exposed to marijuana in utero are also at greater risk of developing asthma, chest infections, and other breathing problems such as wheezing.
Research suggests that, at ages three to four years, children of mothers who used marijuana while pregnant have poorer verbal, memory and reasoning ability; poorer motor skills and shorter length of play; and are more likely to be fearful, impulsive, inattentive, hyperactive and delinquent. These difficulties appear to persist to age 10 years, when they may be accompanied by increased depression and anxiety, along with reading and spelling problems and general underachievement at school. Such deficits may also continue into adolescence and early adulthood, along with an increased risk for initiation of tobacco and marijuana use.
In addition, there exists some evidence that mothers’ marijuana use during pregnancy increases the risk of their children developing childhood cancers, including non-lymphoblastic leukaemia, rhabdomyosarcoma (a rare, highly malignant tumour that can occur anywhere in the body), and astrocytoma (a type of brain tumour).
Preliminary research suggests that fathers’ marijuana use in the year prior to their children’s birth is associated with an increased risk of rhabdomyosarcoma in their children, and that fathers’ marijuana use during conception, pregnancy or postnatally is associated with an increased risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) in their infants. Furthermore, some research suggests that children of fathers who experience marijuana dependence at least at some point in their lifetimes are more likely to experience negative outcomes during childhood, such as poor attachment relationships with their caregivers and psychosocial impairments, including depression and conduct problems.
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This information is from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism website.