Medical Professional Publications

Mark A. Klebanoff, MD, MPH, Receives $1.4 Million NIDA Grant to Study Prenatal Cannabis Exposure

(From the August 2017 issue of Research Now)

Mark A. Klebanoff, MD, MPH, director of the Ohio Perinatal Research Network, has been awarded a three-year $1.4 million R01 grant to study the effects of in utero marijuana exposure on executive function and aggression in preschool-aged children.

“A study of this kind hasn’t been done in this field for over thirty years, and the previous studies of marijuana focused on outcomes of pregnancy—preterm birth, low birth weight, and birth defects; and on the general growth and IQ of the child,” says Dr. Klebanoff, also a principal investigator in the Center for Perinatal Research at Nationwide Children’s. “We’re focusing on executive function. Marijuana is the most commonly used illicit substance in pregnancy and over 200,000 US children are prenatally exposed every year. But our understanding of the long-term effects of exposure in humans is still very poor.”

Executive function includes cognitive functions such as impulse control and working memory. Issues with these skills normally emerge in children around 3 years of age. Utilizing nearly 400 mothers and children recruited from the Ohio Perinatal Research Network, a collaboration between clinicians and scientists at Nationwide Children’s and The Ohio State University Medical Center and College of Medicine, the proposed study will follow subjects over a period of 30 months.

IQ and executive functioning abilities will be measured in both mother and child, while aggression will be measured only in participating children. Any executive dysfunctions or above-average aggression responses will be reported through questionnaire by the child’s mother or teachers, as well as by direct observation of the child in a psychology laboratory

Initially funded by a $350,000 grant from the March of Dimes, this study was awarded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) in early July 2017 and will continue until late May 2020. The research results will be used to inform public health policy as well as health interventions for exposed children if necessary.

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