Pregnancy News & Updates: New Study Reveals Potential Hazards Of Prenatal Marijuana Exposure To Babies’ Brain Development

By Kristine Walker, Parent Herald June 21, 10:38 am

Experts have already warned about the effects of smoking marijuana (cannabis) and cigarettes to an unborn baby during pregnancy, noting the negative behavioral after-effects of prenatal cannabis exposure. Unfortunately, more pregnant women are reportedly using marijuana as the legalization, decriminalization and medical prescription of the drug become more prevalent.

Researchers have found that an estimated 2 to 13 percent of pregnant women are using marijuana globally. However, previous studies only identified the negative behavioral consequences and psychopathological effects of marijuana use during pregnancy in babies.

Marijuana Use During Pregnancy Linked To Abnormal Brain Structure In Children

Based on a recent study published in the journal Biological Psychiatry, a team of researchers from The Netherlands found that the use of marijuana or cannabis during pregnancy can potentially cause abnormal brain structure in children. In fact, children who were exposed to marijuana during pregnancy had thicker prefrontal cortex, a region of the brain responsible for decision-making, working memory and complex cognition.

According to study author Dr. Hanan El Marroun of Erasmus University Medical Center in The Netherlands, the study will help experts understand, give insights and determine the connection between the brain development and prenatal cannabis exposure. Even though experts already know the behavioral effects of prenatal cannabis exposure, little has been known about its effects on brain morphology.

"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," El Marroun said, as per Science Daily.

Increasing Risk Of Prenatal Cannabis Exposure

Aside from the effects on a child's brain development, the recent study also highlighted the increasing risk of prenatal exposure due to the growing legalization, decriminalization and medical prescription of the marijuana, Biological Psychiatry editor Dr. John Krystal said. But El Marroun said the findings should be carefully interpreted.

Other Negative Effects Of Prenatal Marijuana Exposure On Babies And Mothers

Aside from its potential effects on the brain development of children, another study published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology has revealed a connection between smoking marijuana during pregnancy and the increased risk of asthma on babies, low birth weight and premature birth. Mothers, on the other hand, will be reportedly more prone to have high blood pressure, Daily Mail notes.

"In co-users both marijuana and cigarettes we noted an increase in smaller babies, earlier deliveries, asthma and pregnancy-related hypertension," Dr. Diana Racusin of the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas, said.

Despite the negative press on marijuana exposure, Marijuana.com has walked through several arguments regarding the pros and cons of using cannabis while pregnant or breastfeeding. The site even provided some exclusive testimonials from mothers who used medical marijuana throughout their pregnancies.

Do you think prenatal marijuana exposure causes harmful effects on babies? Sound off below and follow Parent Herald for more news and updates.

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