Maternal marijuana use, adverse pregnancy outcomes, and neonatal morbidity

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Abstract

BACKGROUND:

The Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Stillbirth Collaborative Research Network previously demonstrated an association between stillbirth and maternal marijuana use as defined by the presence of 11-nor-delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol-9-carboxylic acid in the umbilical cord homogenate. However, the relationship between marijuana use and perinatal complications in live births is uncertain.

OBJECTIVE:

Our aim was to examine if maternal marijuana use is associated with increased odds of adverse pregnancy outcomes and neonatal morbidity among live-born controls in the Stillbirth Collaborative Research Network cohort.

STUDY DESIGN:

We conducted a secondary analysis of singleton, live-born controls in the Stillbirth Collaborative Research Network data set. Marijuana use was measured by self-report and/or the presence of 11-nor-delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol-9-carboxylic acid in umbilical cord homogenate. Tobacco use was measured by self-report and/or presence of any cotinine in maternal serum. Adverse pregnancy outcome was a composite of small for gestational age, spontaneous preterm birth resulting from preterm labor with or without intact membranes, and hypertensive disorders of pregnancy. Neonatal morbidity included neonatal intensive care unit admission and composite neonatal morbidity (pulmonary morbidity, necrotizing enterocolitis, seizures, retinopathy of prematurity, infection morbidity, anemia requiring blood transfusion, neonatal surgery, hyperbilirubinemia, neurological morbidity, or death prior to hospital discharge). Effect of maternal marijuana use on the probability of an adverse outcome was estimated using weighted methodology to account for oversampling in the original study. 11-nor-delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol-9-carboxylic acid cord homogenate analysis was performed in the subset of women for whom biospecimens were available. Comparisons using logistic modeling, χ2, and t tests were weighted to account for oversampling of preterm births and non-Hispanic blacks. Results are reported as weighted percent and unweighted frequencies.

RESULTS:

Maternal marijuana use was identified in 2.7% (unweighted frequency 48/1610) of live births. Use was self-reported by 1.6% (34/1610) and detected by 11-nor-delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol-9-carboxylic acid in cord homogenate for 1.9% (17/897), n = 3 overlapping. Rate of tobacco use was 12.9% (217/1610), with 10.7% (167/1607) by self-report and 9.5% (141/1313) by serum cotinine. The composite adverse pregnancy outcome was not significantly increased in women with marijuana use compared to nonusers (31.2% vs 21.2%; P = .14). After adjustment for tobacco, clinical, and socioeconomic factors, marijuana use was not associated with the composite adverse pregnancy outcome (adjusted odds ratio, 1.29; 95% confidence interval, 0.56–2.96). Similarly, among women with umbilical cord homogenate and serum cotinine data (n = 765), marijuana use was not associated with adverse pregnancy outcomes (adjusted odds ratio, 1.02; 95% confidence interval, 0.18–5.66). Neonatal intensive care unit admission rates were not statistically different between groups (16.9% users vs 9.5% nonusers, P = .12). Composite neonatal morbidity or death was more frequent among neonates of mothers with marijuana use compared to nonusers (14.1% vs 4.5%; P = .002). In univariate comparisons, the components of the composite outcome that were more frequent in neonates of marijuana users were infection morbidity (9.8% vs 2.4%; P < .001) and neurologic morbidity (1.4% vs 0.3%; P = .002). After adjustment for tobacco, race, and other illicit drug use, marijuana use was still associated with composite neonatal morbidity or death (adjusted odds ratio, 3.11; 95% confidence interval, 1.40–6.91).

CONCLUSION:

Maternal marijuana use was not associated with a composite of small for gestational age, spontaneous preterm birth, or hypertensive disorders of pregnancy. However, it was associated with an increased risk of neonatal morbidity.

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