Cannabis in pregnancy

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Cannabis consumption in pregnancy might be associated with restrictions in growth of the fetus, miscarriage, and cognitive deficits in offspring based on animal studies, however there is limited evidence for this in humans at this time.

Cannabis in Pregnancy


1 Cognitive performance and psychiatric conditions
2 Endocannabinoid system

Cognitive performance and psychiatric conditions

Although it is difficult to draw firm conclusions, there is some evidence that prenatal exposure to marijuana is associated with deficits in language, attention, cognitive performance, and delinquent behaviors. Cannabis use during the prenatal developmental phase is a factor in disruption in gene regulation, making offspring potentially vulnerable to addiction and psychiatric conditions, but there is limited knowledge as of 2011 about the risk for psychiatric disorders because of a lack of studies on the human brain. While animal studies cannot take into account factors that could influence the effects of cannabis on human maternal exposure, such as environmental and social factors, a 2011 review of rodent studies by Campolongo et al. said there was "... increasing evidence from animal studies showing that cannabinoid drugs ... induce enduring neurobehavioral abnormalities in the exposed offspring ..." Campolongo et al. added that "clinical studies report hyperactivity, cognitive impairments and altered emotionality in humans exposed in utero to cannabis".

Endocannabinoid system

A role in female fertility has long been suspected and studied. Most studies through 2013 linking development of the fetus and cannabis show effects of consumption during the gestational period, but problems in the endocannabinoid system (ECS) during the phase of placental development are also linked with problems in pregnancy. According to Sun and Dey (2012), endocanniboid signaling plays a role in "female reproductive events, including preimplantation embryo development, oviductal embryo transport, embryo implantation, placentation, and parturition". Karusu et al (2011) said that a "clear correlation ... in the actual reproductive tissues of miscarrying versus healthy women has yet to be established. However, the adverse effects of marijuana smoke and THC on reproductive functions point to processes that are modulated by ECS."

Keimpema and colleagues (2011) said, "Prenatal cannabis exposure can lead to growth defects during formation of the nervous system"; "[cannabis impacts the formation and functions of neuronal circuitries by targeting cannabinoid receptors ... By indiscriminately prolonging the "switched-on" period of cannabinoid receptors, cannabis can hijack endocannabinoid signals to evoke molecular rearrangements, leading to the erroneous wiring of neuronal networks". A report prepared for the Australian National Council on Drugs concluded cannabis and other cannabinoids are contraindicated in pregnancy as they may interact with the endocannabinoid system.