Behavioral Assessment System for Children

Cannabis Consumption During Pregnancy Linked to Developmental Issues

Cannabis Consumption During Pregnancy Linked to Developmental Issues

A recent study shows evidence that consuming cannabis during pregnancy increases the risk of an unborn child developing behavioral and mental issues in infancy and childhood. 

The study was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS) and led by neuroscientist Yasmin Hurd along with a small team of health professionals.

“While cannabis is among the most used recreational drugs during pregnancy, the impact of maternal cannabis use on fetal and child development remains unclear. We assessed the effects of maternal cannabis use on psychosocial and physiological measures in young children,” the study says. 

Prenatal cannabis consumption can increase the chances of small children with higher levels of aggression and hyperactivity. The developmental problems include increased cortisol, a hormone that acts as the body’s built-in alarm system. 

The children in the study were around three to six years old. The young children experienced the following tests:

  • Hair hormone levels assessed
  • Neurobehavioral traits were surveyed on a Behavioral Assessment System for Children
  • Heart rate variability (HRV) at rest

The research team studied data focused on 322 mother-child pairings, where 71 women reported consuming cannabis during pregnancy. 

Although the sample size is small, the study showed that maternal cannabis consumption causes genetic changes in women’s placentas. The genetic differences were found in children who experienced hyperactivity and aggression symptoms.

“There are studies which have linked its use [AKA linked maternal cannabis consumption] to miscarriage, low birth weight, and premature birth. We have also seen in studies in the monkey that THC will pass through the placental barrier into the fetus, however, the fetus does not readily metabolize the THC,” Medical doctor Thomas Green mentioned in an article for the Fresh Toast.

The study further fuels the idea that pregnant women should not consume marijuana whether it is rolled in a joint or extracted and made into an oil that comes in a tincture bottle, which is often seen as a “healthier” way to consume both CBD and THC because of the lack of inhalation. Regardless of the method, it appears consumption among pregnant women can certainly have long-term detrimental effects.

As more and more Americans show support for legalized cannabis, researchers are taking a deeper look into how marijuana affects people. 

A new study showed a link between legal cannabis and reduced suicide rates among middle-aged men. Like many other recreational and medicinal substances, cannabis has its pros and cons in different areas and the most important thing that comes alongside legalization (besides placing an emphasis on social equity, reparations for those most affected by prohibition, and true reform) is understanding those positives and negatives as they relate to human health and safety.

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