Date of Award

Winter 2020

Author's School

Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

Author's Department


Additional Affiliations

Clinical Science Training Program

Degree Name

Master of Arts (AM/MA)

Degree Type




Importance: In light of increasing cannabis use among pregnant women, the Surgeon General of the United States recently issued an advisory against the use of marijuana during pregnancy.

Objective: To determine whether cannabis use during pregnancy is associated with adverse outcomes among offspring.

Design: Cross-sectional analysis of the baseline session of the ongoing longitudinal Adolescent Brain and Cognitive Development (ABCD) Study.

Setting: Data were collected from 22 sites across the United States between 2016 and 2018.

Participants: Children ages 9-11 (n=11,489) and their parent/caregiver.

Exposure: Prenatal cannabis exposure prior to and following maternal knowledge of pregnancy.

Main Outcomes and Measures: Child psychopathology symptomatology (i.e., psychotic-like experiences (PLEs) and internalizing, externalizing, attention, thought, and social problems), cognition, sleep, birth weight, gestational age at birth, body mass index (BMI), and brain structure (i.e., total intracranial volume, white matter volume, gray matter volume). Covariates included familial (e.g., income, familial psychopathology), pregnancy (e.g., prenatal exposure to alcohol and tobacco), and child (e.g., substance use) variables.

Results: Among 11,489 children (age 9.9±0.6 years; 47.78% female), 655 (5.70%) were prenatally exposed to cannabis. Relative to no exposure, cannabis exposure only prior to (n=413; 3.59%) and following (n=242; 2.11%) maternal knowledge of pregnancy were associated with greater offspring psychopathology characteristics (i.e., PLEs and internalizing, externalizing, attention, thought, social, and sleep problems) and BMI as well as lower cognition and gray matter volume (all |ßs|>0.02, psfdrßs|>0.02, psßs|>0.02, psfdrßs|psfdr>0.70).

Conclusions and Relevance: Prenatal cannabis exposure and its correlated factors are associated with greater risk for psychopathology during middle childhood. Cannabis use during pregnancy should be discouraged.


English (en)

Chair and Committee

Ryan Bogdan

Committee Members

Deanna Barch Thomas Oltmanns

Available for download on Wednesday, May 20, 2048