Researchers in the United States (U.S.) said children of mothers who used cannabis during pregnancy had a heightened risk of developing behavioural or mental health problems. According to the findings of their new study published in ‘JAMA Psychiatry,’ “prenatal exposure to cannabis was associated with a host of adverse outcomes in childhood.”
The researchers, Ryan Bogdan, PhD, of Washington University in St. Louis, and colleagues, said compared to unexposed children, kids who had an in utero exposure to cannabis also known as marijuana were more likely to develop a range of adverse outcomes in childhood, including psychopathology, reduced cognition, and lower brain volume.
The ‘MEDPAGE TODAY’ reported that although, children exposed at any stage of pregnancy were at a slightly increased risk for several adverse outcomes, those who were exposed after their mothers learned they were pregnant were at a significant risk of psychotic-like experiences, impulsivity and attention issues, as well as social challenges. According to their explanation for the trend, the endocannabinoid system (the system that Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) exerts its effects on) is not expressed until around six weeks gestation — around the same time that mothers in the study became aware of their pregnancy.
THC, the principal psychoactive constituent of cannabis, is one of at least 113 cannabinoids identified in cannabis. Bogdan said that it’s possible that there could be neurodevelopmental consequences from THC binding to these receptors in the foetus.