There have been many articles in the media covering the article at the top of the list.  In this study, researchers from Quebec observe an increased risk of spontaneous abortion (miscarriage) in women using benzodiazepines during pregnancy.  We will be writing more about this study later in the week.

Several articles look at the impact of maternal depression on the child’s brain, demonstrating structural changes in the limbic system, the area of the brain responsible for emotional regulation.

And there are more articles on the use of cannabis during pregnancy from Canada.  With the legalization of marijuana, Canada is also seeing a growing number of women using cannabis during pregnancy.  These studies indicate that exposure to cannabis during pregnancy is associated with lower birth weight, shorter gestation, and increased risk of stillbirth.  

Ruta Nonacs, MD PhD


Association Between Incident Exposure to Benzodiazepines in Early Pregnancy and Risk of Spontaneous Abortion.

Sheehy O, Zhao JP, Bérard A.  JAMA Psychiatry. 2019 May 15.

Benzodiazepine use during early pregnancy is associated with increased risk for spontaneous abortion; however, certain confounding factors, including severity of illness, were not considered.


Association of Maternal Use of Benzodiazepines and Z-Hypnotics During Pregnancy With Motor and Communication Skills and Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder Symptoms in Preschoolers.

Lupattelli A, Chambers CD, Bandoli G, Handal M, Skurtveit S, Nordeng H.  JAMA Netw Open. 2019 Apr 5;2(4):e191435. Free Article

Analyzing a cohort of 283 children prenatally exposed to benzodiazepines or z-hypnotics (134 in the depressive/anxiety, 60 in the sleeping, and 89 in the pain-related disorders), there was no increased risk for greater ADHD symptoms or fine motor deficits after intrauterine benzodiazepine/z-hypnotic exposure at different time points. Children born to women with depressive/anxiety disorders who took benzodiazepines/z-hypnotics in late pregnancy had greater gross motor and communication deficits than unexposed children.


Exposure to Maternal Depressive Symptoms in Fetal Life or Childhood and Offspring Brain Development: A Population-Based Imaging Study.

Zou R, Tiemeier H, van der Ende J, Verhulst FC, Muetzel RL, White T, Hillegers M, El Marroun H.  Am J Psychiatry. 2019 May 6.

Exposure to maternal depressive symptoms in children at 2 months of age was associated with smaller total gray matter volume and lower global fractional anisotropy (FA), whereas maternal depressive symptoms assessed prenatally or in childhood were not.


Prenatal exposure to maternal and paternal depressive symptoms and white matter microstructure in children.

El Marroun H, Zou R, Muetzel RL, Jaddoe VW, Verhulst FC, White T, Tiemeier H.  Depress Anxiety. 2018 Apr;35(4):321-329.

Prenatal maternal depressive symptoms were associated with changes in the uncinate fasciculus and the cingulum bundle. These structures are part of the limbic system, which is involved in motivation, emotion, learning, and memory. As paternal depressive symptoms were also related to changes in the cingulum, the observed effect may partly reflect a genetic predisposition and shared environmental family factors and to a lesser extent a specific intrauterine effect.


Prenatal maternal depressive symptoms and infant DNA methylation: a longitudinal epigenome-wide study.

Wikenius E, Myhre AM, Page CM, Moe V, Smith L, Heiervang ER, Undlien DE, LeBlanc M.

Nord J Psychiatry. 2019 May 9:1-7.

The analyses revealed no significant genome-wide association between maternal depressive symptoms and infant DNA methylation.


Cannabis Abuse or Dependence During Pregnancy: A Population-Based Cohort Study on 12 Million Births.

Petrangelo A, Czuzoj-Shulman N, Balayla J, Abenhaim HA. J Obstet Gynaecol Can. 2019 May; 41(5):623-630.

Cannabis use during pregnancy steadily increased over the study period. Users of cannabis during gestation were more likely to have adverse outcomes during delivery and require longer periods of hospitalization. Neonates born to exposed mothers were more likely to be born preterm and underweight.


Cannabis Use in Pregnancy in British Columbia and Selected Birth Outcomes.

Luke S, Hutcheon J, Kendall T.  J Obstet Gynaecol Can. 2019 Feb 7.

Cannabis use in pregnancy is associated with small for gestational age, spontaneous preterm birth, and  stillbirth.


Effects of cannabis tetrahydrocannabinol on endocannabinoid homeostasis in human placenta.

Maia J, Midão L, Cunha SC, Almada M, Fonseca BM, Braga J, Gonçalves D, Teixeira N, Correia-da-Silva G.  Arch Toxicol. 2019 Mar;93(3):649-658.

In chronic cannabis users, endocannabinoid anandamide (AEA) levels in the placenta may disturb the delicate balance of trophoblast cells turnover leading to alterations in normal placental development and foetal growth.


Role of sleep deprivation in the causation of postpartum obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Sharma V.  Med Hypotheses. 2019 Jan;122:58-61.

The author suggests that sleep deprivation may play a critical role in the etiology of postpartum OCD. Clinical and research implications of this hypothesis are discussed.


Mental health in young mothers, single mothers and their children.

Agnafors S, Bladh M, Svedin CG, Sydsjö G.  BMC Psychiatry. 2019 Apr 11;19(1):112. Free Article

Young maternal age was associated with symptoms of postpartum depression whereas single status was not. Young mothers were more prone to report internalizing and externalizing problems in their children, while there was no association between single status and child behavioral problems.


Link between insomnia and perinatal depressive symptoms: A meta-analysis.

Emamian F, Khazaie H, Okun ML, Tahmasian M, Sepehry AA.  J Sleep Res. 2019 Apr 14:e12858.

This meta-analysis demonstrates a significant, medium-size relationship between insomnia and perinatal depressive symptoms.


Association of secondhand smoke and depressive symptoms in nonsmoking pregnant Women: A systematic review and meta-analysis.

Suzuki D, Wariki WMV, Suto M, Yamaji N, Takemoto Y, Rahman MM, Ota E.  J Affect Disord. 2019 Feb 15;245:918-927.

Secondhand smoke exposure during pregnancy showed a significant increase in the odds of depressive symptoms. Furthermore, research is re