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Cannabis Use During Pregnancy Causes Mental Health Issues In Children

Mental health begins in the womb. Fortunately, a new study may help prevent at least some later psychological issues for many children. According to NBC News, pregnant mothers that use cannabis place their unborn child’s mental health at risk.

A recently published JAMA pediatrics study reveals that fetuses exposed to cannabis exhibit ADHD, conduct disorders, and aggressive behavior as adolescents at a much higher rate than their non-cannabis-affected peers. The study examined 10,000 participants aged 11 and 12 while reviewing their behavior and mental health.

Each test subject belonged to either of these three groups:

  • Those not affected by cannabis
  • Those whose mothers stopped using cannabis after learning they were pregnant
  • Those whose mothers kept smoking cannabis while pregnant

Lead research conductor David Baranger stated, “The take-home message here is that there is evidence that one should be careful about using cannabis during pregnancy.”

Further, previous test results conducted on the same pre-teens buoyed these latest findings. The participants are part of the ongoing Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development (ABCD) research program. A project funded by the National Institutes of Health.

In 2019, a round of ABCD MRI scans showed structural brain damages exclusive to the cannabis-impacted cohort, according to Baranger. These tests also showed lower birth weight and reduced brain volume in that group.

This research is especially troubling as the number of pregnant American women using cannabis to treat either nausea or pain is increasing. Such lifestyle choices are no doubt linked to the mind-altering substance’s rise in mainstream acceptance. Cannabis is now legal -or partially legal- in 19 states -a number which will only rise in the near future.

Changing Lifestyle To Promote Healthier Lives

But with the ABCD study’s findings concrete, cannabis must join alcohol and cigarettes as pernicious to unborn life. NIH Dr. Nora Volkow noted, that ‘the use of cannabis is really not desirable for pregnant women because it is a drug that goes through the placenta and into the fetus.’ She also warned expectant mothers to understand cannabis exposure harms their child’s developing brain receptors.

Cannabis exposure is a major reason why one in 33 US children bear a birth defect each year, and why one in six are diagnosed with a mental, behavioral, or developmental disorder by age eight. The lone bright spot in this otherwise sobering study is that mothers-to-be now have scientific data to discourage their cannabis use while carrying.

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