To take your ideas to Policymakers, Join the Campaign of #PolicyPulse Write to

Smoking during pregnancy is harmful for the unborn child

Smoking cannabis during pregnancy may lead to abnormal brain structure in children, a study says

Policy Pulse
Publish Date: Jun 21 2016 12:21PM | Updated Date: Jun 21 2016 12:21PM

As we all know, smoking is injurious to health. Smoking causes cancer and is the root cause for various respiratory and breathing ailments. It does not only affect the person who is smoking but also the person who comes in contact with that smoke. 


According to a new study, smoking can also be dangerous for unborn child if the mother of the child smokes habitually. 


Smoking cannabis during pregnancy may lead to abnormal brain structure in children.


Compared with unexposed children, those who were prenatally exposed to cannabis had a thicker prefrontal cortex, a region of the brain involved in complex cognition, decision-making, and working memory, the findings showed.


Hanan El Marroun from Erasmus University Medical Centre in The Netherlands told media that the study is important because cannabis use during pregnancy is relatively common and we know very little about the potential consequences of cannabis exposure during pregnancy and brain development later in life. 


For the study, the researchers used structural magnetic resonance imaging to examine the brains of 54 children, six to eight years old, who were prenatally exposed to cannabis. 


An estimated two-thirteen per cent of women worldwide use cannabis during pregnancy. Previous studies have identified short and long-term behavioral consequences of prenatal cannabis exposure, but effects on brain morphology were unknown.


Most of the children exposed to cannabis were also exposed to tobacco, so the researchers compared them to 96 children prenatally exposed to tobacco only, as well as to 113 control children with no exposure. 


Comparing tobacco-exposed children with children exposed to both tobacco and cannabis revealed differences in the cortical thickness, suggesting that cannabis exposure has different effects than tobacco.