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Biol Psychiatry. 2016 Jun 15;79(12):971-9. doi: 10.1016/j.biopsych.2015.08.024. Epub 2015 Sep 1.

Prenatal Cannabis and Tobacco Exposure in Relation to Brain Morphology: A Prospective Neuroimaging Study in Young Children.

Author information

  • 1Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Rotterdam, The Netherlands; Generation R Study Group, Rotterdam, The Netherlands. Electronic address: h.marrounel@erasmusmc.nl.
  • 2Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Rotterdam, The Netherlands; Department of Psychiatry, Rotterdam, The Netherlands; Department of Epidemiology, Erasmus University Medical Center, Rotterdam, The Netherlands.
  • 3Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Rotterdam, The Netherlands; Institute of Psychology, Erasmus University Rotterdam, Rotterdam, The Netherlands.
  • 4Generation R Study Group, Rotterdam, The Netherlands; Department of Epidemiology, Erasmus University Medical Center, Rotterdam, The Netherlands; Departments of Pediatrics, Rotterdam, The Netherlands.
  • 5Radiology, Erasmus University Medical Center, Rotterdam, The Netherlands.
  • 6Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Rotterdam, The Netherlands.
  • 7Department of Public Health Sciences, The University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois.
  • 8Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Rotterdam, The Netherlands; Departments of Pediatrics, Rotterdam, The Netherlands.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Cannabis use during pregnancy has been associated with negative behavioral outcomes and psychopathology in offspring. However, there has been little research evaluating alterations in brain structure as a result of maternal cannabis use. In this prospective study, we investigated the association between prenatal cannabis exposure and brain morphology in young children.

METHODS:

We matched 96 children prenatally exposed to tobacco only (without cannabis) with 113 unexposed control subjects on the basis of age and gender and subsequently selected 54 children exposed to prenatal cannabis (mostly combined with tobacco exposure). These children (aged 6 to 8 years) were part of a population-based study in the Netherlands, the Generation R Study, and were followed from pregnancy onward. We assessed brain volumetric measures and cortical thickness in magnetic resonance imaging scans using FreeSurfer. We performed vertexwise analyses in FreeSurfer and linear regression analyses adjusting for relevant covariates using Statistical Package for the Social Sciences.

RESULTS:

Prenatal cannabis exposure was not associated with global brain volumes, such as total brain volume, gray matter volume, or white matter volume. However, prenatal cannabis exposure was associated with differences in cortical thickness: compared with nonexposed control subjects, cannabis-exposed children had thicker frontal cortices. Prenatal tobacco exposure compared with nonexposed control subjects was associated with cortical thinning, primarily in the superior frontal and superior parietal cortices.

CONCLUSIONS:

Our findings suggest an association between prenatal cannabis exposure and cortical thickness in children. Further research is needed to explore the causal nature of this association.

KEYWORDS:

Brain morphology; Neuroimaging; Pediatric brain development; Population-based study; Prenatal cannabis exposure; Prenatal tobacco exposure

PMID:
26422004
DOI:
10.1016/j.biopsych.2015.08.024
[PubMed - in process]
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