Exposure of Kids To Tobacco and Cannabis During Pregnancy Increases Obesity Risk

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Childhood obesity is rising in the US and can lead to health conditions such as sleep apnea, asthma, and type 2 diabetes.

Obesity risk is high in children exposed to cannabis

Recent research suggests that children exposed to cannabis and tobacco during pregnancy have a significantly higher risk of obesity in middle childhood. However, further research is necessary to determine if other factors may contribute to these findings.

Psychology professor and Social Science Research Institute (SSRI) co-funded faculty member at Penn State Rina Das Eiden and associate pediatrics professor at Children’s Mercy Hospital Kansas City and the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine Kai Ling Kong, along with their team, studied the impact of prenatal exposure to cannabis and cigarettes on a child’s risk of obesity from birth to middle childhood. The study sought to address the lack of information about the effects of co-exposure to cannabis and tobacco on child obesity. The researchers had previously worked together at the University of Buffalo and collaborated on the project.

Prenatal exposure to tobacco a risk for obesity

A study investigated the effects of tobacco and cannabis co-exposure on child obesity risk. The researchers noticed overweight children in a more significant assessment and found a lack of knowledge.

Pregnant women who used tobacco and/or cannabis were recruited to complete detailed substance use measures and provide biological samples. The participants were then assessed throughout the child’s development from birth to mid-childhood, comparing obesity development among children whose mothers used tobacco only or both tobacco and cannabis to a group of non-exposed children with similar demographics. The study found that children exposed to tobacco and cannabis during prenatal development had a higher risk of obesity. Girls were particularly affected, as they had a higher increase in BMI compared to boys of the same age. Future studies are needed to understand the relationship between prenatal substance exposure and children’s health, considering other risk factors such as caregiver stress and mental health, exposure to secondhand smoke, and social determinants of health.

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