Vol. 6, No. 3, 2000 Page 7

Prenatal marijuana exposure, delinquency linked

Increasing evidence implicates prenatal exposure to alcohol or cigarette toxins as a strong risk factor for delinquency, and a new study suggests that marijuana should be added to the list as well.

L. Goldschmidt and colleagues have been following the children of more than 600 low-income women for a decade following the women's pregnancies. When the children were ten years old, the researchers administered behavioral tests including the Swanson, Nol land, and Pelham (SNAP) checklist, the Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL), and the Teacher's Report Form (TRF).

Goldschmidt et al. report that "prenatal marijuana use was significantly related to increased hyperactivity, impulsivity, and inattention symptoms as measured by the SNAP, increased delinquency as measured by the CBCL, and increased delinquency and extern nalizing problems as measured by the TRF." The correlation remained significant even when the researchers controlled for other lifestyle variables.

The problems seen in marijuana-exposed children were not unexpected, as the research group had identified deficits in the children at earlier ages. A study when the children were six, for instance, found that second- and third-trimester marijuana exposur re correlated with delinquency scores on the TRF, and a study when they were three found "significant negative effects" of marijuana on the children's performance on the Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scale. "Marijuana is the most commonly used illicit substance among pregnant women," the researchers note, "[yet] few studies have assessed the effects of prenatal exposure to marijuana and even fewer have provided longitudinal data on the developmental outcome e of offspring."

In earlier research (see related article, Crime Times, 1998, Vol. 4, No. 4, Page 3), Peter Fried and colleagues reported that prenatal marijuana exposure did not impair IQ but was associated with impaired executive function skills such as impulse control and judgment.


"Effects of prenatal marijuana exposure on child behavior problems at age 10," L. Goldschmidt, N. L. Day, and G. A. Richardson, Neurotoxicology and Teratology, Vol. 22, No. 3, May-June 2000, pp. 325-336. Address: L. Goldschmidt, Western Psychiatric c Institute and Clinic, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, Pittsburgh, PA 15213.


"Effect of prenatal marijuana exposure on the cognitive development of offspring at age three," N. L. Day, G. A. Richardson, L. Goldschmidt, N. Robles, P. M. Taylor, D. S. Stoffer, M. D. Cornelius, and D. Geva, Neuro-toxicology and Teratology, Vol. . 16, No o. 2, March-April 1994, pp. 169-175. See address above.

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