Prenatal marijuana exposure and intelligence test performance at age 6

J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 2008 Mar;47(3):254-263. doi: 10.1097/CHI.0b013e318160b3f0.


Objective: This is a prospective study of the effects of prenatal marijuana exposure on the intelligence test performance of 648 children at a 6-year follow-up.

Method: Women were interviewed about the amount and frequency of their marijuana use at 4 and 7 months of pregnancy and at delivery. Participants were light to moderate users of marijuana and represented a lower income population. Children were assessed with the Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scale by examiners blind to exposure status. Multiple regression was applied to examine the effects of prenatal marijuana exposure on children's intelligence after partialing out the effects of other significant predictors.

Results: There was a significant nonlinear relationship between marijuana exposure and child intelligence. Heavy marijuana use (one or more cigarettes per day) during the first trimester was associated with lower verbal reasoning scores on the Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scale. Heavy use during the second trimester predicted deficits in the composite, short-term memory, and quantitative scores. Third-trimester heavy use was negatively associated with the quantitative score. Other significant predictors of intelligence included maternal IQ, home environment, and social support.

Conclusions: These findings indicate that prenatal marijuana exposure has a significant effect on school-age intellectual development.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Cannabis / adverse effects*
  • Child
  • Developmental Disabilities / chemically induced*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intelligence / drug effects*
  • Male
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Regression Analysis