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Prenatal exposure to cannabis linked to health risks later in life

A 2016 study found that 22 percent of pregnant women in Colorado had detectable levels of cannabinoids in their bodies. Research shows that exposure to cannabis, including the popular CBD products, during pregnancy put children at risk for health problems. 

CBD is seen as non psychoactive and is advertised as helping a host of psychological issues such as anxiety, depression and post traumatic stress disorder. Because CBD is seen as therapeutic and few side effects are noted, it’s used in a whole host of products from tinctures and lotions to food.  

The risks of cannabinoid exposure in the womb for the children include risks of obesity, high blood sugar and behavioral problems.    

“We found that cannabis use during pregnancy was linked to increased fat mass percentage and fasting glucose levels in 5-year-old children,” said Dr. Brianna Moore of the Colorado School of Public Health. “We would encourage women to refrain from using any cannabis while pregnant or breastfeeding to minimize adverse health effects in the offspring.”

The researchers tested for cannabinoids in urine samples from 103 pregnant women, and 15 percent of those tested had detectable levels of cannabinoids in their urine. The children of the women who tested positive for cannabinoids had children with higher fat content and higher fasting glucose levels than the children of women without cannabinoids in their urine. This is clear evidence of the negative impact of using cannabinoid products when pregnant. Still yet, the scientists caution that more research is needed to fully understand the full effect caused by cannabis use in pregnant women.  

“More studies are needed to understand how exposure to different cannabinoids during pregnancy may impact the offspring,” said Dr. Moore.

The research, which was funded by the National Institutes of Health, is published by The Endocrine Society. 

By Zach Fitzner, Staff Writer

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