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Smoking Marijuana During Pregnancy Alters Newborn Behavior

Posted Thursday, January 18, 2007

Pushing Back -- ONDCP

The Journal of Pediatrics has published a new study which brings to light another troubling consequence of smoking marijuana, particularly during pregnancy.  From Reuters Health (scroll down for the story, right side). 

"Barros and her team looked at 561 infants born to adolescent mothers. Twenty-six of them had been exposed to marijuana, as revealed by tests on the mother's hair and the infant's stool. Just one of the mothers had reported smoking pot while pregnant.

Trained examiners, who did not know a child's marijuana exposure status, tested the neurobehavioral responses of all infants. On average, marijuana-exposed infants scored differently on measures of arousal, regulation and excitability compared to the non-exposed infants...

..Infants exposed to marijuana in the womb show subtle behavioral changes in their first days of life, researchers from Brazil report.

These newborns were more irritable than non-exposed infants, less responsive, and more difficult to calm, Dr. Marina Carvalho de Moraes Barros and colleagues from the Federal University of Sao Paulo and colleagues report. They also cried more, startled more easily, and were more jittery. Such changes, Barros and her team say, have the potential to interfere with mother-child bonding.

Here's the key point: "It is necessary to counter the misconception that marijuana is a 'benign drug' and to educate women regarding the risks and possible consequences related to its use during pregnancy," Barros and colleagues conclude."

The full report from the Journal of Pediatrics may be found here.