A new study determines the correlation between frequent adolescent cannabis use and intergenerational risks. The study by the University of Bristol and Murdoch Children’s Research Institute in Australia found that teens who use Cannabis frequently are more likely to have premature babies.
Adolescent cannabis use has been linked to several problems, including poor educational performance, the risk for cannabis use disorder, and mental health problems. Cannabis use, especially during pregnancy linked to risk for health problems in babies.
Scientists used the prospective cohort from the Australian Victorian Adolescent Health Cohort Study (VAHCS) and Victorian Intergenerational Health Cohort Study (VIHCS), with parents recruited to the study when they were in secondary school and followed up until they started having children in their late 20s and 30s; their children were then recruited into a new study.
Scientists found that babies born to parents who had used Cannabis every day for some time between the ages of 15-17 were estimated to be considerably more likely to be born preterm. Some babies tend to have low birth weight compared to babies born to parents who hadn’t used Cannabis as teenagers. This effect was limited to people using Cannabis at the highest levels of frequency.
Dr. Lindsey Hines, Research Fellow in Bristol Medical School: Population Health Sciences (PHS) at the University of Bristol, said: “Cannabis is the most commonly used illicit drug amongst teenagers. There is already evidence that frequent adolescent cannabis use increases the risks for poor mental health, but our results indicate there may be further effects that individuals may not anticipate.”
“As regulations around legal use liberalize, there is a possibility that adolescent use may increase in some countries. These findings provide additional motivation for ensuring that policy changes do not lead to greater adolescent use.”
George Patton, Professorial Fellow in Adolescent Health Research with the University of Melbourne and Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, added: “The more we study heavy cannabis use in the teens, the more problematic it looks. Given growing political and industry drivers for legalization of use, there is a pressing need for bigger and better research into understanding harms arising from heavy adolescent use.”
According to scientists, the findings need to be validated within other samples. In this study, it was found that cannabis use is most common in boys. However, further research is needed to compare outcomes for men and women. This will help scientists understand biological mechanisms or social conditions that might drive these associations.
- Lindsey A Hines, George Patton et al. Cannabis and tobacco use prior to pregnancy and subsequent offspring birth outcomes: a 20-year intergenerational prospective cohort study. DOI: 10.1038/s41598-021-95460-2