Cannabis use in pregnancy and maternal and infant outcomes: A Canadian cross jurisdictional population-based cohort study

Luke S, Hobbs AJ, Smith M, Riddell C, Murphy P, Agborsangaya C, et al. (2022) Cannabis use in pregnancy and maternal and infant outcomes: A Canadian cross-jurisdictional population-based cohort study. PLoS ONE 17(11): e0276824.



With the recent legalization of cannabis in Canada, there is an urgent need to understand the effect of cannabis use in pregnancy. Our population-based study investigated the effects of prenatal cannabis use on maternal and newborn outcomes, and modification by infant sex.


The cohort included 1,280,447 singleton births from the British Columbia Perinatal Data Registry, the Better Outcomes Registry & Network Ontario, and the Perinatal Program Newfoundland Labrador from April 1st, 2012 to March 31st, 2019. Logistic regression determined the associations between prenatal cannabis use and low birth weight, small-for-gestational age, large-for-gestational age, spontaneous and medically indicated preterm birth, very preterm birth, stillbirth, major congenital anomalies, caesarean section, gestational diabetes and gestational hypertension. Models were adjusted for other substance use, socio-demographic and-economic characteristics, co-morbidities. Interaction terms were included to investigate modification by infant sex.


The prevalence of cannabis use in our cohort was approximately 2%. Prenatal cannabis use is associated with increased risks of spontaneous and medically indicated preterm birth (1.80[1.68–1.93] and 1.94[1.77–2.12], respectively), very preterm birth (1.73[1.48–2.02]), low birth weight (1.90[1.79–2.03]), small-for-gestational age (1.21[1.16–1.27]) and large-for-gestational age (1.06[1.01–1.12]), any major congenital anomaly (1.71[1.49–1.97]), caesarean section (1.13[1.09–1.17]), and gestational diabetes (1.32[1.23–1.42]). No association was found for stillbirth or gestational hypertension. Only small-for-gestational age (p = 0.03) and spontaneous preterm birth (p = 0.04) showed evidence of modification by infant sex.


Prenatal cannabis use increases the likelihood of preterm birth, low birth weight, small-for-gestational age and major congenital anomalies with prenatally exposed female infants showing evidence of increased susceptibility. Additional measures are needed to inform the public and providers of the inherent risks of cannabis exposure in pregnancy.

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