Marijuana in Pregnancy Linked to Preeclampsia and Placenta Problems

Marijuana in Pregnancy Linked to Preeclampsia and Placenta Problems

Having a healthy pregnancy is essential to delivering a healthy child. The early stages of pregnancy are especially delicate as the brain and many of the body’s vital systems are starting to take formation. It’s no secret that substance abuse during pregnancy disturbs this process and can result in complications, premature delivery, problems after birth, and even death.

A new study conducted at the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center examined the effects of marijuana on embryonic development in mice. DNA of embryos was examined before implantation into the uterus. This was done to learn more about how important genes were impacted by disrupted endocannabinoid signaling.

The team found that marijuana can impede the formation of a healthy placenta, which supplies essential nutrients to the fetus as it grows and develops. In particular, the trophoblast cells that comprise the placenta were compromised because of unnatural endocannabinoid signaling.

But problems with normal placenta formation were not the only problems associated with marijuana exposure. Scientists believe that marijuana use during pregnancy may also result in preeclampsia. Preeclampsia is a dangerous condition characterized by abnormal protein in the urine that can lead to high blood pressure and other complications. Left untreated, preeclampsia poses serious health risks for both mother and child.

The results of the study are consistent with prior research regarding the damaging effects of marijuana during pregnancy. In August, data presented online at Drug Testing and Analysis suggested that THC, the chemical found in marijuana, could result in embryonic damage even when exposure occurred in the very earliest stages of gestation.

Co-leading author of the study, Dr. Sudhansu K. Dey says that contact with marijuana and other similar synthetics cause problems with embryonic development that persist throughout pregnancy. While it is known that endocannabinoid signaling affects the nervous system, future implications of the study include examining whether affected genes have an impact on brain development.

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