Dr. Mark Walker, Chief of the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Newborn Care at The Ottawa Hospital, professor at the University of Ottawa and senior author on the study. Credit: The Ottawa Hospital
In the largest study of its kind, Ottawa researchers found that children whose mothers reported using cannabis during pregnancy were at greater risk of autism. The incidence of autism was 4 per 1000 person-years among children exposed to cannabis in pregnancy, compared to 2.42 among unexposed children. The findings were published in the prestigious medical journal Nature Medicine.
Recreational cannabis is now legal in Canada, but that doesn’t mean it’s safe for people who are pregnant or breastfeeding. Health Canada and the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada recommend against these populations using cannabis, and health warnings to this effect appear on cannabis packaging.
“Despite these warnings, there is evidence that more people are using cannabis during pregnancy,” said Dr. Mark Walker, Chief of the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Newborn Care at The Ottawa Hospital, professor at the University of Ottawa and senior author on the study. “This is concerning, because we know so little about how cannabis affects pregnant women and their babies. Parents-to-be should inform themselves of the possible risks, and we hope studies like ours can help.”
Published: August 10, 2020
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