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Prenatal cannabis exposure linked to cognitive defects

PULLMAN, Wash. (Murrow News 8) – Regular cannabis exposure in rats during pregnancy may cause their offspring to have long-term cognitive deficiencies, asocial behavior, and anxiety later in adulthood.

That’s according to a new study by neuroscientists in Washington State University’s Integrative Physiology and Neuroscience unit that provides a rare look at the effects of using cannabis during pregnancy.

“The reality of cannabis research is there’s not a lot of it,” said Halle Weimar, first author on the paper and graduate student in the neuroscience program. “This research helps get information out to women so they can make an educated decision that is best for them.”

Weimar and her colleagues found the offspring of pregnant rats exposed to cannabis vapor were more likely to make regressive errors after they were trained new methods to receive sugar pellets. They were also less social and more anxious when placed in new environments.

Weimar said the research is especially significant as recreational and medicinal cannabis use continues to increase among pregnant women as well as the general population.

The study, recently published in the journal Neuropharmacology, utilized a first-of-its-kind e-cigarette technology to deliver cannabis vapor to pregnant female rats before and throughout their entire gestation period.

“The idea was to use a more clinically relevant model to mirror how humans use cannabis, specifically how pregnant women use cannabis,” Weimar said.

Researchers also delivered propylene glycol vegetable glycerol mixture, commonly found in vape juice, to explore its effects in rats. A control group was left in their home cage and not exposed to any vapor.

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