Pregnant women who use heavy marijuana to treat morning sickness affect a part of the baby's brain that is associated with memory
- The prevalence of pregnant women with pot increased by 62% from 2002 to 2014
- Researchers have exposed pregnant female rats to a synthetic substance similar to marijuana, similar to heavy human use
- Baby rats exposed in the womb had reduced nerve connections in the hippocampus, the part of the brain that was involved in memory
The use of marijuana during pregnancy to treat morning sickness can damage the brains of an unborn baby, a new study says.
Research in rats revealed that expectant mothers who used cannabis affected the part of the brain that was involved in memory and learning.
Previous studies have shown that children born to women who used marijuana during pregnancy are more likely to develop cognitive and behavioral problems.
The team, from Auburn University in Alabama, says the findings confirm the harmful effects of pot on brain development and that there are no safe levels for expectant mothers.
A new study from Auburn University found that rat babies of mothers exposed to cannabis during pregnancy had reduced nerve connections in the hippocampus (file image)
& # 39; Marijuana becomes one of the most commonly consumed drugs during pregnancy, but we know from previous studies that it has harmful effects on brain development, & # 39; told co-author Priyanka Das Pinky, a graduate student at Auburn University, at DailyMail.com.
For the new study, the team wanted to investigate what effects cannabis use could have on the hippocampus of a fetus, which is responsible for processing memory and emotional responses.
They raised pregnant female rats and exposed one group to a synthetic substance that works in the same way as marijuana.
The dose was equivalent to a pregnant human mother who used moderate to heavy amounts of cannabis.
When the baby rats were born, the researchers examined their brains and discovered that the nerve connections in the & # 39; brain's memory bank & # 39; were reduced in rats exposed to a synthetic pot in the womb compared to those not exposed.
Researchers discovered that this was due to a reduction in a protein known as Neural Cell Adhesion Molecule (NCAM), which helps maintain neural connections and strength.
& # 39; When we studied what caused this, we discovered that this molecule in the brain did not have a good connection in neurons, & # 39; said Pinky. & # 39; There has not been much data about this molecule yet, so that was exciting to see. & # 39;
The results suggest that increasing NCAM may reduce the effects of pot, but the authors say further studies are needed.
& # 39; We are currently looking for compounds that increase the production of this molecule, & # 39; said Pinky.
& # 39; However, we have only researched animal models and there is always a translational gap between animal models and human models. & # 39;
Pinky says there are many things to consider when it comes to the use of marijuana by pregnant women, including during which trimester she uses it and whether she smokes it or vista.
& # 39; The first trimester may not have as many effects, and it has been previously determined that the severity is worse when marijuana is smoked (compared to vaped) & # 39 ;, Pinky said.
& # 39; The effect can vary, but how it can vary and whether a possible safe use of marijuana during pregnancy is too early to say. & # 39;
She added that, as many states legalize recreational marijuana, many women believe that cannabis is safe to use, but she says this is a dangerous way of thinking. & # 39;
& # 39; The study is preliminary, but we will emphasize that marijuana is bad to use during pregnancy and we do not encourage women to take it, & # 39; said Pinky.
Research will be presented at the annual meeting of the American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics between April 6 and April 9 in Orlando, Florida.
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