Jeremy FineB.A. in Philosophy, Neuroscience, and PsychologyWashington University in St. Louis, Class of 2019

Marijuana Use During Pregnancy May Increase Risk of Psychosis in Offspring Interview with:

Jeremy FineB.A. in Philosophy, Neuroscience, and PsychologyWashington University in St. Louis, Class of 2019

Jeremy Fine

Jeremy Fine
B.A. in Philosophy, Neuroscience, and Psychology
Washington University in St. Louis, Class of 201 What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Alongside increasingly permissive marijuana use attitudes and laws, the prevalence of marijuana use among pregnant mothers has increased substantially (by 75% between 2002 and 2016), with some evidence that pregnant women may be using cannabis to combat pregnancy-related nausea.

Our data came from the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development (ABCD) Study, which included over 4,000 subjects with data on maternal marijuana use during pregnancy.

Our main finding was that the children of mothers who used marijuana after learning they were pregnant had a small but significant increase in risk for psychosis in their future. What should readers take away from your report?

Response: This is one of the first studies to report that marijuana use during pregnancy may negatively impact the psychiatric outcomes of offspring. Clinically, we recommend that mothers should not use marijuana if they know they are pregnant. What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work?

Response:  I have two recommendations for future research. First, our finding should be replicated in larger and more robust samples. Second, research must be done to elucidate the mechanism of how this increase in psychosis may occur. The mothers in our sample who used marijuana after learning of their pregnancy found out that they were pregnant at around 7.7 weeks. This roughly correlates to when the Endocannabinoid Type 1 Receptor, upon which THC exerts its effect, is expressed in the fetal brain. Studies should be done to see if dysregulation of this pathway is what is generating our findings. Is there anything else you would like to add? 

Response:    There are a few important limitations in our study. The sample size of mothers who reported using marijuana after knowledge of pregnancy was small (n=63). Additionally, we were unable to control for marijuana related variables like strain, method of ingestion, quantity, and potency. Lastly, we did not have a psychosis proneness metric for the mothers, so we used family history of psychosis as a proxy for this variable.  


Fine JD, Moreau AL, Karcher NR, et al. Association of Prenatal Cannabis Exposure With Psychosis Proneness Among Children in the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development (ABCD) Study. JAMA Psychiatry. Published online March 27, 2019. doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2019.0076 

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Last Updated on March 28, 2019 by Marie Benz MD FAAD