Study Suggests Cannabis Impacts Brain During Pregnancy

A recently published study by Miriam Melis, PhD, associate professor at the University of Cagliari, Monserrato, Italy, suggests that in the case of male rats, prenatal exposure to THC is linked to hyperactive dopamine neurons and increased sensitivity to the behavioral effects of THC during pre-adolescence. In other words, there could be impacts on offspring if cannabis is consumed during pregnancy.

According to Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News, the study measured cannabis exposure in rats by giving the THC to pregnant mothers and examining their offspring during adolescence. This shows that the male offspring exhibit extensive molecular and synaptic changes.

Although emerging evidence indicates that prenatal cannabis exposure (PCE) may have long-term consequences for babies’ brain development, how that exposure affects the maturation of the neuronal system remains unclear,” the study explains.

In a review of this research, the authors wrote that “it is crucial to highlight the immediate and protracted consequences of cannabis exposure on pre- and postnatal development,” researchers wrote. “These findings are supported by epidemiological data indicating similar behavioral outcomes throughout life in human offspring exposed to cannabis during pregnancy. Further, we indicate important lingering questions regarding accurate modeling of perinatal cannabis exposure as well as the need for sex- and age-dependent outcome measures in future studies.”

Overall, this study addresses the uptick in pregnant women who consume cannabis for things like pain or nausea. While this is approved in some places, and cannabis can certainly be a helpful tool, it is important to remember that not enough research has been done on cannabis and pregnancy. As more research is completed, folks will be able to safely determine whether cannabis should be used during pregnant months.

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