– EN Fitness & Wellbeing – Smoking marijuana during pregnancy may affect the development of part of the baby’s brain associated with memory, new research has found.
Researchers from Auburn University, Alabama have found that pregnant female rats who were exposed to a synthetic chemical that acts similarly to marijuana gave birth to babies with reduced nerve connections in the brain’s “memory bank”.
The academics exposed the rats to a dose that was equivalent to a pregnant human mother using moderate to heavy amounts of cannabis, and claimed that the findings may be applicable to human pregnancy too.
Speaking about the research, the study’s co-author Priyanka Das Pinky told Mail Online that marijuana consumption resulted in reduced levels of a protein known as Neural Cell Adhesion Molecule (NCAM), which helps maintain connections in the brain.
“When we examined what was causing this, we found this molecule in the brain was not maintaining proper connection in neurons,” she said. “There has not been much data on this molecule before, so that was exciting to see. Right now, we’re looking for compounds that increase (production of) this molecule.”
While some expectant mothers may rely on marijuana to relieve the symptoms of morning sickness, Pinky has urged pregnant women to avoid the substance.
“Marijuana is becoming one of the most consumed drugs in pregnancy, but we know from past studies that it has harmful effects on developing brains,” the expert added. “The research is preliminary, but we will stress that marijuana is bad to use during pregnancy and we don’t encourage women to take it.”