Cannabis sativa’s psychoactive tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) has not been established as a human teratogen (1), but there is a history of teratogenic effects linked to use by expectant mothers (2). The perinatal exposure is thought to interfere with neurodevelopment and affect neurobehavorial outcomes (1-2).
Although the teratogenicity of marijuana is not as catastrophic as other illicit drugs such as cocaine, it’s harm can still lead to problems such as disturbed sleep and attention deficit disorder (2-3). Worth noting is that when cocaine exposure is accompanied by marijuana, the neurological effects can be pronounced (3).
There is also indication that maternal marijuana use may increase risk of acute myeloid leukemia, however, more recent research has not been able to confirm this relationship (4).
1. Kozer E, Koren G. Effects of prenatal exposure to marijuana. Can Fam Physician 2001;47:263-4.
2. Reece AS. Chronic toxicology of cannabis. Clin Toxicol (Phila) 2009;47:517-24.
3. Frank DA, Augustyn M, Knight WG, Pell T, Zuckerman B. Growth, development, and behavior in early childhood following prenatal cocaine exposure: a systematic review. JAMA 2001;285:1613-25.
4. Trivers KF, Mertens AC, Ross JA, Steinbuch M, Olshan AF, Robison LL. Parental marijuana use and risk of childhood acute myeloid leukaemia: a report from the Children's Cancer Group (United States and Canada). Paediatr Perinat Epidemiol 2006;20:110-8.