The utilization of cannabidiol is increasing across the US, thanks partly to the 2018 Farm Bill. Pregnant people, especially, may consider cannabidiol a more natural product as compared to other treatment options for health issues like pain and nausea. Anyhow, the primary and secondary effects of its use on the fetus are still not known. That is presumably the reason why many people think twice about using CBD in pregnancy. It may also be the reason for the following piece of research about the same matter.
Recently, researchers from the University of Minnesota (UMN) investigated the said effects of cannabidiol on the fetus as well as the animal brain and how it conducts itself. They did so with a mice model, and their study is featured in the ‘Clinical Epigenetics’ journal. The study discovered that using CBD when pregnant may impact the cognition and mood of an offspring long since its exposure to it has stopped. It is the world’s first study to look at the influence of maternal cannabidiol exposure in pregnancy on a mammalian offspring in its adulthood.
The group of researchers comprised the scientists from the university’s Department of Animal Science. They started the study with a dosage that is relevant to humans and typical in grown-ups who buy CBD without prescription for various ailments. Then, the research participants treated the pregnant rodents each day throughout the animals’ pregnancy period and lactation up to the time each of their offsprings was weaned. These offsprings were followed right into their adulthood with no additional cannabidiol; at that time, the researchers measured them for persistent molecular and behavioral effects of the compound.
The scientists looked into the DNA methylation and behavior concerning the rodents. For your information, DNA methylation is a mechanism called heritable epigenetic mark found in human beings and rodents that aids in controlling where, how much and when gene activity happens. The researchers looked at cannabidiol’s effects on the activity markers in multiple brain regions that are essential for mood, cognition, and memory.
Here are some of the most significant findings of their study.
- Chronic maternal cannabidiol treatment did not affect male adult offspring, whereas it raised anxiety and boosted the memory performance of the females.
- CBD’s effects in the course of pregnancy persisted, although the offspring did not have any direct exposure to the compound as adults.
- The genes that CBD affected played a part in the creation of synapses and neurons, conditions such as autism, epilepsy and drug addiction, as well as communication from one neuron to the other.
- Maternal cannabidiol treatment changed gene regulatory markers, such as DNA methylation, in numerous genes situated in the adult female offspring’s brains.
The utilization of cannabidiol has gone up in the recent past. Anyhow, there is no clear idea about how it affects the brain, particularly during development, stated Christopher Fault of the College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences. For your information, Fault is also the director of this study. As for Fault, the study shows that CBD’s utilization in pregnancy can affect children in adulthood and possibly for the remaining part of their life.
Those researchers noticed CBD’s effects on the anxiety and memory of mouse children aged 12 weeks. This period approximating young human adults is a reason to worry, as for Nicole Wanner of College of Veterinary Medicine. Wanner is among the few co-authors of this study. The brain-based DNA methylation markers are mainly set in fetal development, plus cannabidiol’s presence in this process seems to drive some permanent changes.
Wanner also said that the researchers were startled at how much the gene pathways associated with CBD were linked to neurological disorders. She also said that they all expect that future work would be required to understand in what way fetal’s exposure to cannabidiol affects the long-term function of the brain, plus mental health.
As per Wanner and Faulk, it would be important to glean further insight into the way in which CBD impacts the growing brain for safety recommendations down the line.
The researchers keep drawing gestational CBD exposure’s epigenetic map as well as that of its effects on both youth and grown-ups. They anticipate expanding behavioral pieces of research to include drug reward and sociability measures, which are vital for conditions such as autism and drug addiction. The researchers also plan on repeating these measures in adolescent children to find out whether there are abnormalities at a previous age or whether these develop afterward.
The UMN’s College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences funded the study on CBD and pregnancy. You may be able to discover more pieces of information about it in the January 2021 edition of the Clinical Epigenetics online journal.