A major study has revealed a strong link between marijuana use by mothers during pregnancy, and subsequent rates of autism among their children.
A recent analysis of more than 500,000 Canadian mothers and their children revealed a 50% increase in the risk of autism in kids whose mothers had used marijuana while pregnant, according to a report published Monday in Nature Medicine.
. . .
The 503,065 children analyzed — 3,148 of whom had mothers that had used cannabis while pregnant — were followed for an average of seven years. Exactly 7,125 were diagnosed with varying levels of autism.
Researchers found that the rate of autism diagnoses among children with in utero cannabis exposure was 2.2%. Of those whose mothers did not use the drug during pregnancy, only 1.4% were diagnosed with autism.
"Cannabis is not a benign drug and any use during pregnancy should be discouraged," Corsi said. "We know that cannabinoids can cross placental tissue and enter the fetal bloodstream. There are cannabinoid receptors present in the developing fetus and exposure to cannabis may impact the wiring of the developing brain."
After researchers accounted for factors that might distort the results, they found that the risk for autism increased by 50% when mothers used cannabis while pregnant.
There's more at the link.
Needless to say, pro-marijuana voices are already being raised in an attempt to question or discount the results of the survey. Nevertheless, I remain unsurprised. I lived in Africa for decades, as regular readers will know. Marijuana use is endemic there. I have little doubt that it's one of the factors affecting the mental development of African children. The continent rates chronically low on objective measurements of IQ; and I'm sure drug and alcohol use has more than a little to do with that. (Yes, mental underdevelopment is not the same as autism, but AFAIK they're related issues.)
It's a sobering thought that many of today's autistic and "special needs" children may have been made that way by their mothers' self-indulgent behavior. Lawmakers, too, should take note. De-criminalizing marijuana use may have had the unintended consequence of condemning many more children to a lifetime of retardation, and possibly permanent incompetence to manage their own lives.