There’s no doubt about it: Pregnancy is tough. Between the nausea, extra hormones, unusual aches and pains, the long list of things to avoid and the consistent charge for your baby’s well-being, the nine months are a roller coaster fueled by the beginnings of love.
As parents look to remedies and practices to ease the strain and maintain the first magic of pregnancy, cannabis has quickly become a popular substance for expecting parents. CBD and THC – the two main chemical components of marijuana – attract to-be parents with their ability to relieve pain, suppress nausea, ease anxiety and treat insomnia.
While the FDA “strongly advises against the use of CBD, THC, and marijuana in any form during pregnancy or while breastfeeding,” researchers still debate the effects of prenatal cannabis exposure. The authors of a new study lean toward the FDA guidance and urge cautious intake of THC and CBD during pregnancy.
“The surprising part is that maternal exposure to CBD alone – a drug that is often considered as safe and harmless and is a popular ‘natural’ therapy for morning sickness – resulted in a lasting impact on adult mice offspring,” Hui-Chen Lu, an author of the study, said in a press release accompanying the new research.
Scientists at Indiana University split pregnant mice into four study groups and administered THC and CBD across the course of the pregnancy. Later analysis found extensive amounts of THC and CBD in the embryonic brain, concluding that the substances have the ability to penetrate the placenta.
Behavioral tests on the exposed mice also suggested impact on the developing brain by diminishing the central nervous system’s regulatory signals to stress and anxiety as the mice mature. Understanding that, in humans, mental struggles — such as anxiety, depression and stress — are often treated through medical drugs, the researchers decided to test fluoxetine on the mice.
Fluoxetine is an antidepressant and is known as a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) because it works by increasing the amount of serotonin available to the brain. The fluoxetine had little to no effect on the mice that experience THC or CBD exposure during birth.
“Perinatal exposure with THC or CBD prevented fluoxetine from decreasing immobility in both males and females,” the study stated. “Excitingly, fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH) inhibition with a dose of URB597 rescued fluoxetine efficacy in the perinatal exposed mice of both sexes.”
This first-of-its-kind study opens the door for further research into perinatal cannabis use and suggests a long-term focus on the developing brain is of utmost importance. The byproducts of marijuana pose a lot of positives, but the negatives are etching their name on the ‘no-no’ list for pregnant people.