Effects from marijuana use on the development of the baby in the womb

Marijuana is one of the most questionable popular illicit drugs that women will use while pregnant. Marijuana has not always fallen under the teratogen category for a human; in fact it has been difficult to make any direct link in fetus malformation that can be the cause of marijuana exposure. Just about 40 years ago scientists discovered that cannabinoids do effect the division of cells, especially regarding the making of DNA and protein. Ethel Sassenrath from the University of California, studied the effect of marijuana on animals including; dogs, monkeys and birds. Her studies resulted in THC being toxic to the embryo and fetus due to the fact that female monkeys had reproductive failure.

There are many factors that make it difficult to determine the direct neurodevelopmental effects on the fetus and a portion of this reason is due to the fact that other drug use is commonly associated to women whom use marijuana while they are pregnant. The understanding of the neurobiological consequences of marijuana use on a developing fetus is gradually improving. Endocannabinoids effects mood, cognition and reward. Just fewer than 5 percent of expecting mothers in the United States reported to have used cannabis at some point in terms. In higher risk areas the statistics of marijuana use during pregnancy can raise to 13%. The reported use of cannabis during the time of pregnancy in Europe is also about 5 percent or less. About 33% of THC gets through the placental barrier. Overall various studies have revealed that the maternal effects of cannabis may include fetal distress, growth retardation and other negative neurodevelopmental effects. The dopamine system is negatively affected by means of maturation when a fetus is exposed to cannabinoids. Studies have also revealed that the activity of tyrosine hydroxylase and limited enzymes in dopamine synthesis when exposed to cannabinoids. Low mRNA levels are related to moderate to high use of marijuana use during pregnancy. Increased mu receptor expression in amygdala is a result of marijuana exposure in the middle of a pregnancy. The activity of opioid receptors is also influenced by cannabis exposure during pregnancy.


This picture shows the parts of the brain in a fetus and adult that can be effected by cannabis.

This graph reveals that Marijuana is the most commonly used illicit drug while pregnant.

This image compares the dopamine mNRA expression levels in the amygdala to marijuana use.