As U.S. states continue to legalize the use of marijuana, so is the number of American women using cannabis before becoming pregnant and to treat morning sickness, anxiety, and lower back pain. Research has indicated that the use of marijuana, and its prenatal exposure, holds long term consequences on the development of a baby’s brain and can contribute to the increased risk of psychiatric disorders like schizophrenia.
Now, researchers at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, found that the FDA-approved drug pregnenolone can reverse the negative effects of marijuana use on experimental animal models exposed prenatally to THC--the psychoactive component of cannabis. The drug is also being investigated for treating schizophrenia, autism, and bipolar disorder.
"This is an exciting finding that suggests a therapeutic approach for children born to mothers who used cannabis during pregnancy," said Joseph Cheer, PhD, a Professor of Anatomy & Neurobiology and Psychiatry at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. "It also raises important questions that need to be addressed such as how does pregnenolone exert its effects and how can we improve its efficacy? Do these detrimental effects persist into adulthood, and if so, could they also be treated in a similar way?"
The study provides insight on the importance of physicians cautioning their pregnant patients not only on alcohol and cocaine use but also on the potential negative consequences of using cannabis during pregnancy. Findings of the study were published in the journal Nature Neuroscience.
Source: Science Daily