Marijuana use during pregnancy has long been controversial. While the plant seems perfectly geared for treating some of pregnancy’s most annoying side effects (nausea, digestive issues, physical aches, anxiety, etc.), consuming any type of substance is likely to impact the fetus.
A new study conducted by Western University shows that marijuana can impact fetal brain development.
Using pregnant rats as subjects, researchers found that THC affected the offspring’s brains, particularly in the areas of the brain that process anxiety and addiction.
Interestingly, male offspring were much more affected than females, with researchers saying that males were “badly hit on almost every metric”. Male offspring were likely to have more anxiety, with their addiction and reward systems severely impacted, especially in the long term, being more prone to depression, anxiety, and poor emotional regulation.
“[At adulthood], the females often [experienced] no anxiety, no brain activity changes, no depression, no reward processing alterations and really very few protein changes as well,” said study lead Mohammed H. Sarikahya, PhD.
He also said that the study achieved these results while using a six percent dose of THC; average THC levels are now well over 12 percent.
Now that marijuana is becoming more and more common, it’s important to inform the public about its side effects and for researchers to study the plant fully, from learning more about its properties to understanding its effect on pregnancies. While it’s good that the drug is being embraced for its medicinal value, it’s also important to learn and acknowledge its side effects.