Asthma, sleep apnea, and type 2 diabetes are just some of the conditions that children with obesity are more likely to develop in the United States. More research is needed to determine if other factors account for these findings, but a recent study found that children exposed to both tobacco and cannabis during pregnancy had a 12-fold increased risk of obesity by middle childhood (ages 9-12) compared to non-exposed children.
The study is published in Pediatric Obesity.
As part of the new research, one urban hospital in western New York required all pregnant patients to complete a health screener before providing any prenatal care. Eligible female cannabis or tobacco users were asked to fill out extensive questionnaires and submit blood and urine samples for chemical analysis.
After evaluating pregnant participants at the end of each trimester, 259 mothers returned to the lab with their children at ages 2, 9, 16, and 24 months, as well as after kindergarten and in the middle of childhood.
Researchers compared the rates of obesity in children whose mothers used tobacco during pregnancy versus those whose mothers used both tobacco and cannabis. The children in the study were then compared to a control group of children who were not exposed.
What researchers concluded: “Results highlight potentiating effects of cannabis exposure in the context of maternal tobacco use in pregnancy on obesity risk and the importance of multi-method assessments of obesity.”