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Using marijuana while pregnant can lead to sleeping problems for children

Study findings suggest that kids can feel the effects of the drug for up to a decade after birth

Photo (c) Blue Planet Studio - Getty Images
While researchers have previously warned consumers about marijuana use during pregnancy, and even during fertility treatments, a new study conducted by researchers from the University of Colorado at Boulder explored how the drug can affect infants throughout childhood. 

According to the study, women who use marijuana during pregnancy increase the likelihood that their children will have trouble sleeping. 

“As a society, it took us a while to understand that smoking and drinking alcohol are not advisable during pregnancy, but it is now seen as common sense,” said researcher John Hewitt. “Studies like this suggest that it is prudent to extend that common sense advice to cannabis, even if use is now legal.” 

The effect of marijuana on the brain

The researchers analyzed data from over 11,000 kids between the ages of nine and 10 who were involved in the Adolescent Brain and Cognitive Development (ABCD) study. The children’s mothers were also involved in the study by answering questions about their marijuana use and their child’s sleeping habits. 

The questions in both categories were specific, as the researchers were curious about the frequency with which the women used the drug during pregnancy, as well as any issues their kids had falling asleep or staying asleep. 

The researchers discovered a correlation between mothers who used marijuana during pregnancy and kids who had trouble sleeping, even a decade removed from childbirth. When mothers reported marijuana use during pregnancy, kids were more likely to have feelings of extreme tiredness during the day and trouble waking up in the morning. 

The researchers believe the cause for this finding may be linked to receptors in the brain that are affected by cannabis use. Based on other studies, they’ve determined that marijuana can affect brain development and ultimately impede the receptors in the brain required for sleep. Moving forward, the researchers hope that these findings highlight the risks associated with women using marijuana during pregnancy, as the effects can be far-reaching. 

“This study is one more example of why pregnant women are advised to avoid substance use, including cannabis,” said Hewitt. “For the children, it could have long-term consequences.” 

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