Marijuana use during pregnancy can have a significant impact on the health of unborn babies, a new joint study by Western University and Queen’s University researchers says.
“This is the first study to definitively support the fact that THC alone has a direct impact on placental and fetal growth” study co-author and Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry associate professor Dan Hardy said in a statement.
In lab rats, researchers showed regular exposure to a low dose of THC — meant to mimic daily use of pot during pregnancy — led to an eight per cent drop in birth weight and a more than 20 per cent decrease in brain and liver growth in the fetus.
The research team also showed how THC can prevent oxygen and nutrients from crossing the placenta and reaching the unborn baby. By looking at human placental cells, the team found THC exposure reduced the amount of an important protein that transports glucose — a key nutrient used in human energy production — into cells.
“This study is important to support clinicians in communicating the very real risks associated with cannabis use during pregnancy.”