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This article is the authors' final version prior to publication in Neurotoxicology and Teratology, Volume 70, November 2018, Pages 28-39.

The published version is available at Copyright © Stroud et al.


Tobacco and marijuana are some of the most common prenatal substance exposures worldwide. The social acceptability and political landscape of marijuana and its potency have changed dramatically in the last two decades leading to increased use by pregnant women. Despite evidence for increasing marijuana use and high rates of co-use of tobacco (TOB) and marijuana (MJ) during pregnancy, the impact of prenatal exposure to each substance is typically studied in isolation. We investigated the influence of co-exposure to TOB and MJ on infant neurobehavioral development over the first postnatal month. Participants were 111 mother-infant pairs from a low-income, diverse sample (Mean age = 25 ± 5; 54% minorities). TOB and MJ use were assessed by Timeline Followback interview with biochemical confirmation. Three groups were identified: (a) prenatal MJ + TOB, (b) prenatal TOB only, (c) controls. Newborn neurobehavior was assessed at seven time points over the first postnatal month using the NICU Network Neurobehavioral Scale. MJ + TOB-exposed infants showed decreased ability to self-soothe (Self-regulation) and attend to stimuli (Attention), and increased need for examiner soothing (Handling) and low motor activity (Lethargy) versus unexposed infants. Despite low levels of MJ use in MJ + TOB co-users, co-exposure was associated with nearly double the impact on infant self-soothing and need for examiner soothing versus TOB-exposure alone. Effects of MJ + TOB co-exposure appeared more pronounced for daughters than for sons. Although results are preliminary, they highlight additional risk from dual exposure to MJ + TOB vs. TOB exposure alone, particularly for daughters. Results also highlight the critical importance of investigating prenatal exposures in concert and the need for intervention efforts to address MJ co-use in pregnant TOB users.

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