How cannabis use during pregnancy may lead to cognitive deficits and altered behavior

A team of neuroscientists at Washington State University released their findings in Neuropharmacology demonstrating how, in rodents, cannabis use during pregnancy may lead to long-term cognitive deficits and altered behavior later in adulthood.

Given the miniature-size of research delving into cannabis and its effects on the brain, the new study gives more ample evidence pointing to its potential negative implications during pregnancy.

“The reality of cannabis research is there’s not a lot of it. This research helps get information out to women so they can make an educated decision that is best for them,” said Halle Weimar, the study’s first author, in a news release.

For the study, the US-based research team used a form of electronic cigarette capable of administering cannabis vapor to pregnant rodents before and during their gestation period.

The use of cannabis vapor was designed to replicate how it would occur if human participants were used.

“To address this limitation, we developed a novel e-cigarette technology-based system to deliver vaporized cannabis extracts,” the co-authors explained in the findings.

“We used this model to determine effects of prenatal cannabis exposure on emotional, social, and cognitive endpoints of male and female offspring during early development and into adulthood.”

After administering the vapor twice each day as part of one-hour sessions before and during pregnancy, it was concluded that drastic cognitive and behavioral changes arose from exposure to cannabis. The effects lasted well into adulthood, the study also found.

“These data collectively indicate that prenatal cannabis exposure may cause enduring effects on the behavioral profile of offspring,” the co-authors concluded in their findings.

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