Study: Children of Mothers Who Use Pot Are More Likely to Try It Earlier

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A new study found that if a mother uses marijuana, her child is more likely to use the drug at a younger age.

CHILDREN WHOSE MOTHERS use marijuana are likely to begin using the drug earlier than children whose mothers do not, according to new research.

A study published Monday in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine says children of women who consume marijuana use the drug themselves an average of two years earlier than children of women who do not use the drug.

Researchers from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health analyzed data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1979 and Child and Young Adults. They examined marijuana use among 4,440 children and 2,586 mothers and observed when participants began using the drug. Researchers tested for the effect of a woman’s pot use between her child’s birth and age 12 on the child’s subsequent risk of using the drug themselves.

The study found that 67.2 percent of children and 35.3 percent of women reported using marijuana. Additionally, children of women who used the drug had an increased risk of using marijuana themselves before 17 years old – at a median age of 16. Children of mothers who did not use the drug began using marijuana at age 18.

According to the press release, the association between maternal marijuana use and the age of a child’s initiation was slightly stronger among non-Hispanic, non-black children. Although the study examined the relationship between mother and child pot use, researchers did not ask if the child was aware that their mother used the drug.

Natasha Sokol, lead author of the study, said it was important to understand how the evolving laws and culture surrounding marijuana might impact youth because early marijuana use has been linked to “negative cognitive and behavioral consequences.”

“In a shifting regulatory environment in the U.S. in which the visibility and acceptability of adult marijuana use is expected to increase, it’s important to better understand how these changes may impact children’s early marijuana use so that we can better identify at-risk youth and implement effective prevention strategies,” Sokol said in a press release.

Researchers said that banning marijuana altogether isn’t a goal because studies have shown the drug can be useful when treating certain health conditions. However, exposure to the drug at a young age has been linked to reduced IQ, increased impulsivity and trouble with concentration.

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