Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Title

International journal of environmental research and public health





PubMed ID





School of Medical and Health Sciences




Reece, A. S., & Hulse, G. K. (2022). European epidemiological patterns of cannabis- and substance-related body wall congenital anomalies: Geospatiotemporal and causal inferential study. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 19(15), 9027.


As body wall congenital anomalies (BWCAs) have a long history of being associated with prenatal or community cannabis exposure (CCE), it was of interest to investigate these epidemiological relationships in Europe given the recent increases in cannabis use prevalence, daily intensity, and Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) potency. Methods: This study makes use of BWCA data from Eurocat, drug exposure data from the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction, and income from the World Bank. Results: The mapping analysis showed that BWCARs increased in France, Spain, and the Netherlands. The bivariate mapping analysis showed that the BWCA rates (BWCAR) and the cannabis resin THC concentration rose simultaneously in France, the Netherlands, Bulgaria, Sweden, and Norway. The bivariate ranking of the BWCARs by median minimum E-value (mEV) was omphalocele > diaphragmatic hernia > abdominal wall defects > gastroschisis. With inverse probability weighted multivariable panel regression, the series of BWCAs, including gastroschisis, omphalocele, and diaphragmatic hernia, was positively related to various metrics of cannabis use from p = 2.45 × 10−14, 4.77 × 10 − 7 and < 2.2 × 10 − 16. With geospatial regression, the same series of BWCAs was related to cannabis metrics from p = 0.0016, 5.28 × 10−6 and 4.88 × 10 − 9. Seventeen out of twenty-eight (60.7%) of the E-value estimates were > 9 (high range), as were 14/28 (50.0 %) of the mEVs. Conclusion: The data confirm the close relationship of the BWCARs with the metrics of CCE, fulfill the quantitative criteria of causal inference, and underscore the salience of the public health impacts of cannabinoid teratogenicity. Of major concern is the rising CCE impacting exponential cannabinoid genotoxic dose-response relationships. CCE should be carefully restricted to protect the food chain, the genome, and the epigenome of coming generations.



Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.