Parental cannabis and tobacco use during pregnancy and childhood hair cortisol concentrations

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3 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Background: Fetal exposure to cannabis and tobacco during pregnancy leads to adverse fetal and childhood outcomes. We hypothesized that fetal exposure to cannabis and tobacco have persistent programming effects on hypothalamic pituitary adrenal (HPA) axis functioning in childhood. Therefore, we examined the associations of parental cannabis and tobacco use during pregnancy with childhood hair cortisol and cortisone concentrations at 6 years, as biomarkers of long-term HPA-axis functioning. Method: In a population-based prospective birth cohort among 2577 mothers and their children, information of parental cannabis and tobacco use was collected by questionnaires, and maternal urine samples were additionally analyzed to detect cannabis metabolite concentrations. Cortisol and cortisone were measured in hair samples at 6 years. Linear regression analysis with adjustment for several confounders was used to test our hypothesis. Results: As compared to non-exposed children, offspring exposed to cannabis during pregnancy (in combination with tobacco) had higher childhood cortisol concentrations (log-10 transformed difference 0.16, 95 % Confidence Interval 0.04 to 0.28). This association was not mediated by birth weight. No differences in cortisone concentrations among cannabis-exposed children were observed. Maternal tobacco use during pregnancy was not associated with childhood cortisol or cortisone concentrations. Further, paternal cannabis or tobacco use was not associated with childhood cortisol or cortisone concentrations. Conclusions: Our findings suggest that maternal cannabis use, combined with tobacco, during pregnancy is associated with alterations in offspring HPA-axis functioning. Further studies need to replicate these findings, and assess the causality and long-term consequences of these associations.

Original languageEnglish
Article number108751
JournalDrug and Alcohol Dependence
Volume225
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2021

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