J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2022 Mar 31:dgac101. doi: 10.1210/clinem/dgac101. Online ahead of print.
OBJECTIVE: To assess the impact of fetal exposure to cannabis on adiposity and glucose-insulin traits in early life.
RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS: We leveraged a subsample of 103 mother-child pairs from Healthy Start, an ethnically diverse Colorado-based cohort. Twelve cannabinoids/metabolites of cannabis (including Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol and cannabidiol) were measured in maternal urine collected at ~27 weeks’ gestation. Fetal exposure to cannabis was dichotomized as exposed (any cannabinoid > limit of detection [LOD]) and not exposed (all cannabinoids < LOD). Fat mass and fat-free mass were measured via air displacement plethysmography at follow-up (mean age: 4.7 years). Glucose and insulin were obtained after an overnight fast. Generalized linear models estimated the associations between fetal exposure to cannabis with adiposity measures (fat mass [kg], fat-free mass [kg], adiposity [fat mass percentage], body mass index [BMI], and BMI z-scores) and metabolic measures (glucose [mg/dL], insulin [uIU/mL], and homeostatic model assessment of insulin resistance [HOMA-IR]).
RESULTS: Approximately 15% of the women had detectable levels of any cannabinoid, indicating fetal exposure to cannabis. Exposed offspring had higher fat mass (1.0 kg; 95% CI, 0.3-1.7), fat-free mass (1.2 kg; 95% CI, 0.4-2.0), adiposity (2.6%; 95% CI, 0.1-5.2), and fasting glucose (5.6 mg/dL; 95% CI, 0.8-10.3) compared with nonexposed offspring. No associations were found with fasting insulin (in the fully adjusted model), HOMA-IR, BMI, or BMI z-scores.
CONCLUSIONS: We provide novel evidence to suggest an association between fetal exposure to cannabis with increased adiposity and fasting glucose in childhood, a finding that should be validated in other cohorts.