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New study reveals why cannabis use during pregnancy is a really bad idea

cannabis use during pregnancy

cannabis use during pregnancy A new study in the journal Biological Psychiatry finds a connection between mothers who partake in cannabis use during pregnancy and abnormal brain development in their children.

Researchers at Erasmus University Medical Centre in the Netherlands looked at the brains of 54 children prenatally exposed to cannabis and found an association between thickness in the cortical region of the brain and prenatal cannabis exposure.

“Overall, we detected significant associations between prenatal cannabis exposure and brain morphology in young children, particularly in the frontal brain,” say the study’s authors.

The study involved children aged six to eight years, 96 of whom were prenatally exposed to tobacco only (without cannabis), 113 unexposed control subjects and 54 children exposed to prenatal cannabis, many of whom were also exposed to tobacco.

The researchers found that compared to non-exposed children, those exposed to tobacco had smaller brain volumes and thinner cerebral cortices (the cerebral cortex is the brain’s outermost layer of tissue responsible for advanced thought, perception, memory and awareness), while those children in the cannabis-exposed group were found to have thicker cortices but no abnormalities in brain volume.

Previous studies have investigated the long-term effects of prenatal cannabis exposure on a child’s behaviour and psychological development and found associations between cannabis exposure and a range of issues including attention and aggression problems, cognitive deficits and impairments in controlling inhibitions.

This is the first study to look into the effects prenatal exposure may have on the development of the brain itself, say the authors, who point out that considering today’s improved cannabis breeding technology has greatly increased tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) levels in common forms of the drug -the main psychoactive compound found in cannabis- further study on the effects of cannabis exposure on child neural development will be particularly important.

“The current study combined with the existing literature about the long-term consequences of prenatal cannabis and tobacco exposure support the importance of preventing and reducing smoking cannabis and cigarettes during pregnancy,” say the study’s authors.

Another recent study found that heavy users of marijuana had compromised dopamine systems, an indication of marijuana’s addictive qualities.

Researchers observed lower dopamine release in the striatum region of the cerebral cortex, involved in working memory, impulsive behaviour and attention, and found lower dopamine release, a result previously shown to be present in users of other drugs such as cocaine and heroin. “We don’t know whether decreased dopamine was a preexisting condition or the result of heavy cannabis use,” said Dr. Abi-Dargham, lead author of the study and professor of psychiatry at Columbia University Medical Center. “But the bottom line is that long-term, heavy cannabis use may impair the dopaminergic system, which could have a variety of negative effects on learning and behavior.”

Canada’s federal government intends to legalize the production, distribution and use of marijuana in the spring of 2017. Jane Philpott, Canada’s Health Minister has said legalization is important for protecting the safety of children, stating that, “We will introduce legislation that ensures we keep marijuana out of the hands of children and profits out of the hands of criminals.”

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About The Author /

Jayson is a writer, researcher and educator with a PhD in political philosophy from the University of Ottawa. His interests range from bioethics and innovations in the health sciences to governance, social justice and the history of ideas.

Comment

  1. Smart Approaches to Marijuana Canada on June 15th. 2016 obtained a document produced by Health Canada in which the agency acknowledges, and warns of specific risks associated with the use of marijuana products for medical purposes.
    “When the product should not be used: under the age of 25, are allergic to any cannabinoid or to smoke, have serious liver, kidney, heart or lung disease, have a personal or family history of serious mental disorders such as schizophrenia, psychosis, depression, or bipolar disorder,are pregnant, are planning to get pregnant, or are breast-feeding, are a man who wishes to start a family, have a history of alcohol or drug abuse or substance dependence.”
    Marijuana products can reduce blood levels of testosterone, effecting sperm production, enough to render an individual sterile.
    Even if a mother has never used cannabis, DNA damage from cannabis use can be passed on by father’s sperm causing serious and fatal illnesses in offspring and may affect future generations.
    Marijuana may significantly increase a man’s risk of developing an aggressive type of testicular cancer. This cancer tends to strike between the ages of 20-25 and accounts for 40% of all testicular cancer cases.
    To view the associated PDF, please visit the following link: http://media3.marketwire.com/docs/1059309r.pdf

  2. Health Canada has a solid history of politically motivated garbage on this issue and your post falls into the category of profit motivated garbage. There is zero real scientific evidence for almost everything in your post.

  3. This is fascinating.
    This study concludes that cannabis use during pregnancy causes a thickening of the prefrontal cortex.
    However, as noted on wikipedia, “A 2014 meta-analysis by Professor Nicole P.Yuan from the University of Arizona found that larger prefrontal cortex volume and greater PFC
    cortical thickness were associated with better executive performance.”[27]
    So if this study is reliable, it means that cannabis use during pregnancy actually increases the executive function of the child, which is to say, it makes them smarter.

  4. ——————–
    Conclusions. The absence of any differences between the exposed
    on nonexposed groups in the early neonatal period suggest that the
    better scores of exposed neonates at 1 month are traceable to the
    cultural positioning and social and economic characteristics of mothers
    using marijuana that select for the use of marijuana but also promote
    neonatal development.
    ———————
    http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/93/2/254?sso=1&sso_redirect_count=2&nfstatus=401&nftoken=00000000-0000-0000-0000-000000000000&nfstatusdescription=ERROR%3A%20No%20local%20token&nfstatus=401&nftoken=00000000-0000-0000-0000-000000000000&nfstatusdescription=ERROR%3a+No+local+token

  5. ———————————
    The results show no significant differences in developmental testing
    outcomes between children of marijuana-using and non-using mothers
    except at 30 days of age when the babies of users had more favourable
    scores on two clusters of the Brazelton Scales: autonomic stability and
    reflexes. The developmental scores at ages 4 and 5 years were
    significantly correlated to certain aspects of the home environment and
    to regularity of basic school (preschool) attendance.
    ——————————
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1957518

  6. You are not reading info based on science but on the past Harper governments brutal implementation of anti-cannabis policy for the previous ten years prior to them being turfed in the last election.
    Health Canada is the worst source of info on Cannabis you could possible use! As a Canadian citizen I challenge their position daily via official inquiry and submission of complaints of publication of false information.

  7. Here is some science for you;
    The results show no significant differences in developmental testing
    outcomes between children of marijuana-using and non-using mothers
    except at 30 days of age when the babies of users had more favourable
    scores on two clusters of the Brazelton Scales: autonomic stability and
    reflexes. The developmental scores at ages 4 and 5 years were
    significantly correlated to certain aspects of the home environment and
    to regularity of basic school (preschool) attendance.
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1957518

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