Sunday, April 14, 2013

Marijuana : Harm to the Fetus

THC, the psychoactive principle of cannabis, is a lipophilic molecule and this can easily cross the placental barrier. Specifically, one-third of THC present in the plasma can cross the placenta interfere with normal development of the fetus. In addition, it is likely that the overstimulation of this system during the critical stage of neuronal development of the fetus damages the nervous system functions. This is especially true in view of the evidence indicating that the activation of CB1 receptors by THC can induce neuronal cell death (apoptosis)  and the fact that the THC may affect the synthesis and release of endogenous cannabinoids.

Cannabis use in pregnancy: severely compromised fetal development

The cannabis use during pregnancy increases the risk of having a child under weight or premature labor. Some studies have noted that intrauterine exposure to cannabis causes serious problems in the development of the newborn with neurological and behavioral effects that include severe tremors, mental retardation and intellectual problems. In a study conducted by El Marroun (2010) on a sample of 7,452 women, we examined the relationship between cannabis use by the mother and the developing fetus. The results showed that among all the pregnant women examined, 245 women (3.3%) had used cannabis only before pregnancy and 214 women (2.9%) had smoked marijuana before and during the period of gestation. Among these, 173 (81%) had discontinued use early in pregnancy, while 41 (19%) had continued during all nine months. After an analysis of epidemiological and clinical data, the researchers came to the conclusion that cannabis, even if taken for a short period during pregnancy can adversely affect the growth and development of the fetus.

Weed Effect

Cell Death

It can be assumed that when the immature brain is exposed to phytocannabinoids (exogenous cannabinoids) through the intake of marijuana by the mother, aberrant activation of signaling pathways of cell death may have marked effects on the development and differentiation of the nervous system fetal central . Exposure to cannabis in fact, sovrafisiologica induces a modulation of the endocannabinoid system and damages the temporal precision of the communication mechanisms of the system. This increases the likelihood of altering the genesis of synapses and the development of certain neuronal circuits.

Genetics, social deficits and cognitive impairment

The impact of pathogenic phytocannabinoids on the Central Nervous System (CNS) has been highlighted by a number of important epidemiological and clinical studies that document the impulsive behaviour  social deficits, cognitive damage, the consumption of drugs of abuse and psychiatric disorders, such as schizophrenia, depression and anxiety, in adult individuals who had been exposed to cannabis in utero and early adolescence.

Neuro-behavioral alteration of the child

A study carried out in an animal model (rodent) has shown that prenatal exposure to cannabis may harm the fetus. From the results it was found that the cannabinoid compounds are neuroteratogeni and are able, therefore, to induce long-lasting neuro-behavioral abnormalities in the offspring exposed to cannabis. The study also argues that several pre-clinical results are examined in line with clinical studies of reference related to hyperactivity, cognitive disorders and altered emotionality in humans exposed to cannabis prenatally.