Thursday, July 07, 2016

Cannabis use during pregnancy: potential effects on child's brain development

Interesting review of research done to determine the effects of cannabis use during pregnancy. -JR

Cannabis use in pregnancy may alter offspring's brain structure

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"Children born to mothers who use cannabis during pregnancy are more likely to have abnormal brain structure, which may have long-term consequences for mental health."

This is the conclusion of a new study published in the journal Biological Psychiatry, led by Dr. Hanan El Marroun, of Erasmus University Medical Center in the Netherlands.
According to the researchers, around 2-13 percent of women worldwide use cannabis during pregnancy.
Previous research has suggested that expectant mothers who use the drug are more likely to have children with behavioral and mental health problems.
Exactly how cannabis use affects the brain structure of offspring, however, has been unclear, and this is what Dr. El Marroun and colleagues set out to investigate.
"This study is important because cannabis use during pregnancy is relatively common and we know very little about the potential consequences of cannabis exposure during pregnancy and brain development later in life," says Dr. El Marroun.

Thicker prefrontal cortex for children prenatally exposed to cannabis

The team analyzed the data of 263 children aged 6-8 years who were part of the Generation R Study - a population-based study in the Netherlands, in which they were followed from birth.
However, compared with children who were prenatally exposed to tobacco only, the researchers found those who were prenatally exposed to both cannabis and tobacco had a thicker prefrontal cortex.
The prefrontal cortex is a brain region that plays a role in complex cognitive behavior, planning, decision-making, working memory, and social behavior.

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