Past studies have also associated use of recreational drug in pregnancy with offspring birth defects, but the researcher-head Dr Anna David of the Institute of Women's Health at University College London, says many of such studies are inaccurate if relied on self-reporting.

In the study, researchers enrolled 517 mothers and tested their hair samples to determine drug use during conception and pregnancy.

Over the use of hair as samples, the research team said that drugs accumulates in hair. Since hair grows around 1 cm each month, the team took 9 cm sample of hair from each woman to estimate their drug use.

Of the participants, 213 had a baby with a birth defect after having possible links to recreational drug use. 143 women had baby with a birth defect not previously associated with recreational drug use, while 161 had baby with no birth defect.

Drug use during pregnancy links to brain underdevelopment, brain cysts in offspring

The highest level of recreational drug use were found at the time of conception but reduced by first or second trimester of pregnancy. Approximately 50 percent of women who smoked cannabis carried on using the drug into the second trimester.

Brain defects at birth, the researchers say, are a major concern; they can have severe outcomes and lead to lifelong disorders, such as cerebral palsy.

Commenting over the results, Dr David says, "Our findings suggest a link between brain birth defects and recreational drug use in expectant mothers.”

“We were unable to identify significant links between specific drugs and brain birth defects. Therefore, I would discourage women trying to get pregnant and those in early pregnancy from taking any recreational drugs, including cannabis," she added.

She says, however only 20 of the mothers in the study had a baby with a brain defect at birth, therefore a larger study is required to confirm the findings.

Latest News from Lifestyle News Desk