Foetal Damage caused by Marijuana?
A gleaning of extracts from various sources, all credited.
All extracts retrieved on 8th October 2014.
This is a personally biased selection of articles. I will not apologise for my bias. If my bias disturbs or annoys you, then move on to another blog.
I am aware there are both many more articles, and many more scientific articles out there, just as there are many article proposing there is no harm at all to a developing foetus from parents’, especially mothers’, use of marijuana or THC in any of its forms before conception, during pregnancy or after birth while breastfeeding.
I do not subscribe to the concept of marijuana use not harming an unborn child – I have had too many children of marijuana-using parents in my classrooms, seen their poor cognitive abilities, poor assessment results, poor attention spans, inability to develop abstract thinking. Such children are just as difficult to educate as children with FAS.
New Zealand’s “Green Party” lost my political interest when I learned they support legalisation of marijuana.
From :: Why Cannabis Must Remain Illegal
WHAT IS CANNABIS?
This so-called soft drug is a toxic narcotic (UN 1961 Single Convention Amended in 1972).
It has no medical benefits (see http://www.eurad.com…Research).
A single joint is composed of more than 400 different chemicals, all of them toxic.
On combustion these multiply into about 2,000 equally poisonous chemicals.
Cannabis is different from alcohol, heroin or other drugs because it is fat-soluble.
This causes it to be absorbed into the brain and other fatty organs of the body where it is stored for months in both the chronic and so-called recreational user, resulting in the person becoming stupefied.
It is only very slowly released from the body, which explains the absence of severe withdrawals.
This lulls the person into believing that he or she is not addicted.
While in the body the toxins are attacking every cell, system, and organ present, with the brain sustaining the most damage, as it is one-third fat.
The chemicals in cannabis adversely affect the central nervous system, cardiovascular, respiratory, and immune systems.
Foetal damage is incurred in pregnant women, and a rare form of leukemia can be caused in infants.
Cannabis is a highly carcinogenic drug.
American studies have shown cellular damage to the lungs of cannabis smokers, who smoke two joints of cannabis a day, to be as harmful as the damage caused by 28 tobacco cigarettes.
Decreases in sperm production and increases in abnormal forms caused by THC have been recently attributed to a biological phenomenon known as “apoptosis” of the cell.
Apoptosis is the process of programmed cell death occurring over hours and days, in successive stages, resulting in the fragmentation of DNA and the disintegration of the cell.
It is a fundamental process emphasized in the first report on the human genome (2001).
Apoptosis is controlled by an important cluster (home box) of genes, which order the self-destruction, or suicide of the cell. (Nahas)
An incorrect assumption of some scientists was that recreational usage of cannabis would not produce apoptosis.
They failed to take into account the distribution of THC throughout the body and it’s lengthy storage in fat depots and subsequent slow release in the same active form as when first ingested.
After a single cannabis cigarette, 50% of its THC is stored in fat depots for five days. It will take 30 days for its complete elimination. If one smokes one joint every two days, one will store ten times more than the initial dose of THC after ten days and 30 times more after 30 days. Such amounts have been scientifically proven to induce apoptosis of sperm cells and of lymphocytes. (Nahas)
The fat-soluble smoke in cannabis damages the brain, respiratory tract, immune system and the unborn foetus.
Users cause damage to society through family breakdown, road accidents, and violent acts.
From :: Cannabis: Good For Pain, but bad for your health?
Dr Thomas Stuttaford, The Times, 24th October 2005
Cannabis has an adverse effect on the reproductive system in men and women.
In women it may cause ovulatory and menstrual irregularities, and in men can cause testicular atrophy with a marked reduction in sperm count.
The babies born to cannabis-smoking couples are, on average, shorter, have a lower birth weight and reduced head circumference, and after delivery are more restless and nervous.
As children they have an appreciably higher incidence of one form of leukaemia, have poorer memories and verbal ability as toddlers, and do less well in intelligence tests up to the age of 9.
In rodents there is an increased incidence of foetal abnormalities and stillbirths in those given cannabis.
Similarly, a long-term project evaluating the effect of cannabis on rhesus monkeys, either before or during pregnancy, showed that it quadrupled the death rate of babies in utero or soon after birth. There was also a higher incidence of congenital neurological deformities.
Although there have been reports of similar findings in humans, a relationship between cannabis and foetal abnormality is difficult to prove.
From :: Substances of abuse
Using cannabis products may have a harmful effect on foetal growth.
Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) passes through the placental barrier, causing higher carbon monoxide levels in blood circulation than smoking.
Study results indicate that foetal exposure to cannabis products may cause permanent changes in the function of the developing central nervous system.
THC, the active ingredient in hashish and marijuana, accumulates in breast milk.
The accumulated levels found in breast milk can be 10-fold to concentrations detected in maternal circulation. Regular exposure to THC can have a harmful effect on the development of the child’s central nervous system, and therefore mothers using cannabis products should never breastfeed their babies.
From :: Smoking Cannabis During Pregnancy Could Affect Foetal Brain Function
by Karthika on June 18, 2008 at 5:37 PM, Women Health News
Women who smoke cannabis during pregnancy may be putting their developing foetus in danger, revealed an experimental study involving mice.
The study conducted by the research team at the University of Aberdeen also stressed that some of the prescribed drugs, including some to treat obesity, could also have detrimental effects in the womb.
Focusing on the importance of molecules produced naturally in the brain and how certain nerve cells recognise and connect with each other, the research claimed that anything that disrupts this process, like cannabis smoking, could affect brain function.
The researchers said that the brain molecules called endocannabinoids behave in the same way as tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) from cannabis, and affect the same receptors and signalling systems in the brain.
However, they stressed that this signalling process should occur unhindered, so that the brain can develop normally.
“Our findings highlight that the integrity of this signalling system should be maintained and not disrupted if the brain is to develop normally,” BBc quoted Prof Tibor Harkany, recruited to the University of Aberdeen as part of the Scottish Universities Life Sciences Alliance (Sulsa), as saying.
He added: “Anything that disrupts this process such as cannabis smoking or certain drugs that interfere with this signalling system could ultimately affect the brain’s functionality.”
“Our initial findings showed the importance of these naturally occurring molecules in guiding the growth and connections of nerve cells in the developing brain,” said Jan Mulder, first author of the study and Alzheimer’s Research Trust fellow at the University of Aberdeen’s Institute of Medical Sciences.
He added: “Now we demonstrate the extent of this signalling system and that complex network of neurons – the backbones of higher cognitive functions – do not develop normally when endocannabinoid signalling is disturbed.”
Cannabis is considered to be one of the most widely used drugs by women at reproductive age, and earlier studies have pointed out that babies born to mothers who took cannabis while they were pregnant, experienced problems with physical activity.
The new study is published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS)
From :: Cannabis/Marijuana/Dope/Pot… Essential Information That Could Help You Save Your Child’s Life!
In a letter published in NZ Herald 4 June 1997 Dr K.M. Ewen, MB ChB, FRCS, FRACS (retd), stated:
I am amazed and dismayed by the superficial debate by our politicians about cannabis.
Successive Ministers of Health and of Social Welfare have failed to address this problem adequately.
Cannabis is a fat-soluble drug which lodges in all tissues, especially the brain.
It has a “half life” of about 7 days and therefore anyone who smokes it at least weekly has a steadily rising blood level.
It has all the bad properties of alcohol excess and thus [properties of] the “foetal alcohol syndrome” as it crosses the placenta readily.
Brain damage occurs in the foetus more severely than in adults and affects the higher centers involving conscience, moral behaviour, short-term memory and later long-term memory.
From :: Marijuana: Prenatal and Postnatal Exposure in the Human
Katherine Tennes, M.A., Nanci Avitable, M.A., Carol Blackard, M.D., Cecilia Boyles, M.A., Bernice Hassoun, B.S., Larry Holmes, M.S., and Marie Kreye, Ph.D.
Recent studies of prenatal exposure to marijuana have produced presumptive evidence that marijuana has an adverse effect on growth and development of the fetus.
Two investigators (Linn et al. 1983; Gibson et al. 1983) reported a decrease in birth weight and an increase in malformations in marijuana-exposed infants, but differences between marijuana users and nonusers were not statistically significant when confounding factors were taken into account.
Hingson et al. (1982) reported that woman who used marijuana during pregnancy delivered infants with a mean birth weight 105 grams lighter than infants of nonusers, and the infants were five times mere likely than infants of nonusers to have features compatible with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome.
Heavy marijuana use was found to be associated with an increase in male over female offspring, a finding previously reported by Fried (1982).
Women who reported smoking marijuana three times a week or more throughout pregnancy (N = 31) gave birth to 61% males and 38% females as compared with 50% males and 49% females among nonusers (N = 498). Among fathers who were reported to be chronic smokers of more than one ‘joint” a day, the ratio was 67% males to 33% females (table 3).
Multivariate analyses of the impact of marijuana on three measures of fetal growth—birth weight, length aid head circumference—did not yield uniform results.
Infant length was the only measure influenced by marijuana when confounding variables were taken into account.
Of eight variables, accounting for 22% of the variance in length, marijuana (total amount used during the first trimester) entered the regression on the fourth step (table 4).
Other confounding variables considered in the regression that did not reach significance were: mother’s age, parity, Hispanic race, socioeconomic status, caffeine, alcohol, hash, amphetamines, aid cocaine.
As calculated from the unstandardized p-coefficients, the reduction of .55 centimetres in length, attributable to
smoking an average of three joints a day during the first trimester, was roughly comparable to the reduction of .48 centimetres attributable to smoking one-and-a-half packs per day of cigarettes
Of 39 infants with major malformations recorded in the infants’ medical records, 12 (31%) were children of marijuana users...
The findings in this investigation are consistent with other studies that have reported a trend toward or a significant reduction in fetal growth associated with exposure to marijuana during gestation (Hingson et al. 1982: Linn et al. 1983; Gibson et al. 1983).
From :: Marijuana Impacts Fetal Brain Development During Pregnancy
Despite making favorable headlines throughout the United States following legalization in Washington and Colorado, marijuana is still regarded as a direct cause for the endangerment of fetal brain development.
Professor of Developmental Neurobiology, Tibor Harkany of the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden, published his findings in this month’s issue of the EMBO Journal.
He stated that the consumption of cannabis during pregnancy directly affects the development of nerve cells of the cerebral cortex, the part of the brain that orchestrates higher cognitive functions and drives memory formation.
In the study, cannabis (scientifically known as “delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol” or “THC”) was tested on mice and human brain tissue in order to see how it affected an unborn fetus. Specifically, the scientists found that THC negatively impacted the operation of the structural platform between nerve cells. This primarily involves how the nerve cells will develop and function.
If the nerve cells don’t fully develop, then they will not connect properly–if at all.
“Even if THC only would cause small changes, its effect may well be sufficient to sensitize the brain to later stressors or diseases to provoke neuropsychiatric illnesses in those affected in the future,” says Professor Harkany in this EurekAlert! article. “This concerns also the medical use of Cannabis, which should be avoided during pregnancy.”
In addition to Professor Harkany’s researchers in Sweden and Austria, researchers from the United States, Germany, Finland, and the United Kingdom participated thanks to funded grants from the Scottish Universities Life Science Alliance, the Swedish Research Council, Hjarnfonden, the Novo Nordisk Foundation, the Welcome Trust, and the National Institutes of Health.
The researchers arrived at the conclusion that “these developmental deficits may evoke life-long modifications to the brain function of those affected” (found in the same article *) and [marijuana] should be avoided altogether during pregnancy.
You can visit the article here to find out more about the study as well as the effects of smoking cannabis during pregnancy.
* From :: Cannabis during pregnancy endangers fetal brain development
An increasing number of children suffer from the consequences of maternal drug exposure during pregnancy, and Cannabis is one of the most frequently used substances.
This motivated the study, published in the EMBO Journal, cunducted in mice and human brain tissue, to decipher the molecular basis of how the major psychoactive component from Cannabis called delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol or THC affects brain development of the unborn foetus.
The study highlights that consuming Cannabis during pregnancy clearly results in defective development of nerve cells of the cerebral cortex, the part of the brain that orchestrates higher cognitive functions and drives memory formation.
In particular, THC negatively impacts if and how the structural platform and conduit for communication between nerve cells, the synapses and axons, will develop and function.
Researchers also identified Stathmin-2 as a key protein target for THC action, and its loss is characterized as a reason for erroneous nerve growth. It is stressed that Cannabis exposure in experimental models precisely coincided with the fetal period when nerve cells form connections amongst each other.
According to study leader Professor Tibor Harkany, who shares his time between Karolinska Institutet and the Medical University Vienna in Austria, these developmental deficits may evoke life-long modifications to the brain function of those affected.
Even though not all children who have been exposed to Cannabis will suffer immediate and obvious deficits, Professor Harkany warns that relatively subtle damage can significantly increase the risk of delayed neuropsychiatric diseases.
“Even if THC only would cause small changes its effect may well be sufficient to sensitize the brain to later stressors or diseases to provoke neuropsychiatric illnesses in those affected in the future”, says Professor Harkany.
“This concerns also the medical use of Cannabis, which should be avoided during pregnancy
Publication: ‘Miswiring the brain delta-9-tetra-hydro-cannabinol disrupts cortical development by inducing an SCG10/stathmin-2 degradation pathway’,
Giuseppe Tortoriello, Claudia V. Morris, Alan Alpar, Janos Fuzik, Sally L. Shirran, Daniela Calvigioni, Erik Keimpema, Catherine H. Botting, Kirstin Reinecke, Thomas Herdegen, Michael Courtney, Yasmin L. Hurd and Tibor Harkany, EMBO Journal, online 27 January 2014.