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Ralph Teller

Marijuana Use During Pregnancy linked to Major Brain Birth Defects

by Ralph Teller

Teens and Young Adults Need to Know the Potential Harm to their Baby from Marijuana Use!

In utero exposure to tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), a major psychoactive component of marijuana, is associated with an increased risk for anencephaly and neurobehavioural deficiencies in the offspring. Anencephaly is a condition in which the forebrain fails to form. Marijuana use during pregnancy, including early stage pregnancy, can also cause the later development of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), learning disabilities, memory impairment, depression and aggression.

The emergence of bioengineered cannabis crops, blends, and novel, medicinal marijuana strains have resulted in marijuana strains 20 times more potent than the popular marijuana strains in the 1970s and 1980s. Synthetic forms of marijuana found in 'Spice' products can be 500 to 600 times more potent than the THC found in "traditional" marijuana. "The problem is that many women who are pregnant or are planning to become pregnant are totally unaware of this [new] increased potency and the risks they pose," states Dr. Delphine Psychoyos of the Center for Environmental and Genetic Medicine at Texas A&M Health Science Center, author of this study.

Teens and young adults need to know these risks! Marijuana is the most widely used illicit drug by pregnant women in the world. Many of these women are unaware of the potential harm they are doing to their baby by exposing them to high levels of THC, noted the Dr. Psychoyos. Dr.Psychoyos writes that "Clearly, additional awareness should be provided to teens and young adults in particular concerning the health deficits caused by marijuana, especially given the current debates on rescheduling, legalization, and decriminalization of marijuana based on its medical applications."

Marijuana Use During Pregnancy Increase in Health Risk
1 to 4 weeks after conception Anencephaly (no forebrain development)
18 to 22 weeks after conception abnormal neuronal circuitry in cognitive brain center
18 to 22 weeks after conception abnormal neuronal circuitry in emotional brain center
'Spice' products use Anencephaly (no forebrain development)

Several other recent studies have documented the dangers of marijuana use. One study found that marijuana use in the months prior to conception doubles preterm birth risks! Preterm births can significantly impact infant health and infant mortality.This study has some scientists concerned about the impact of marijuana use by a mother during pregnancy or during the months prior to conception on the fetal brain. See Preterm Birth Risk Factors - Marijuana Use.

Two other separate recent study have also linked (i) marijuana use with loss of brain volume and (ii) early age marijuana use with psychosis and Schizophrenia symptoms. See Early Cannabis Use Linked to Schizophrenia Symptoms.

Most young people believe marijuana is completely safe to use. It's not. Please do your part and spread the word!

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Articles on Marijuana Use and Health Risks

PublicationMarijuana, Spice 'herbal high', and Early Neural Development, Dr. Delphine Psychoyos, Center for Environmental and Genetic Medicine at Texas A&M Health Science Center

PublicationMarijuana Use Linked to Increased Risk for Preterm Birth, Emma Hitt, PhD, Medscape

PublicationRisk Factors for Preterm Birth in an International Prospective, PLoSOne

PublicationImpact of cannabis use on thalamic volume in people at familial high risk of schizophrenia, Killian A. Welch, MD, MRCPsych, British Journal of Psychiatry

PublicationEarly cannabis use and Schizotypal Personality Disorder Symptoms from adolescence to middle adulthood, DeidreM. Anglin, Cheryl M. Corcoran, Alan S. Brown, Henian Chen, Quenesha Lighty, Judith S. Brook, Patricia R. Cohen, Schizophrenia Research

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