Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Title

Global Pediatric Health


Sage Publications


School of Medical and Health Sciences




Reece, A. S., & Hulse, G. K. (2019). Cannabis consumption patterns explain the east-west gradient in Canadian neural tube defect incidence: An ecological study. Global Pediatric Health, 6.


While a known link between prenatal cannabis exposure and anencephaly exists, the relationship of prenatal cannabis exposure with neural tube defects (NTDs) generally has not been defined. Published data from Canada Health and Statistics Canada were used to assess this relationship. Both cannabis use and NTDs were shown to follow an east-west and north-south gradient. Last year cannabis consumption was significantly associated (P < .0001; cannabis use–time interaction P < .0001). These results were confirmed when estimates of termination for anomaly were used. Canada Health population data allowed the calculation of an NTD odds ratio) of 1.27 (95% confidence interval = 1.19-1.37; P < 10−11) for high-risk provinces versus the remainder with an attributable fraction in exposed populations of 16.52% (95% confidence interval = 12.22-20.62). Data show a robust positive statistical association between cannabis consumption as both a qualitative and quantitative variable and NTDs on a background of declining NTD incidence. In the context of multiple mechanistic pathways these strong statistical findings implicate causal mechanisms.



Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License