A new study reveals the potential effects of cannabidiol (CBD) intake during pregnancy on offspring development. A study conducted on mice found that exposure of fetuses to CBD caused developmental changes that could affect the offspring’s sensitivity to thermal pain and problem-solving abilities. These findings show that molecular psychiatryaffects pregnant women who are using CBD for anti-nausea purposes.
The nausea and vomiting that many pregnant women experience is commonly known as morning sickness and can be very debilitating. Some pregnant women turn to cannabis for its anti-nausea effects, believing it to be safe. Cannabis contains two main components: cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). While THC is known for its psychoactive effects, CBD is not. Since CBD was legalized in 2018, it has become widely available not only as part of cannabis, but also as a stand-alone product.
CBD is known for its anti-nausea properties and is effective in reducing nausea. However, this study aimed to understand the potential risks and neurodevelopmental effects associated with CBD exposure to the fetus.
“Some people take CBD to improve nausea, anxiety, pain, and sleep problems, which are common symptoms of pregnancy,” said study author Emily Bates, an associate professor at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus. Ta. “In fact, during my own pregnancy, I was advised to take CBD to reduce nausea. However, there was little published data on how CBD affected fetal development. .”
To investigate the effects of fetal CBD exposure, researchers conducted a comprehensive study using female mice. They administered CBD to one group of pregnant mice and a control substance (sunflower oil) to another group, reproducing the measured oral CBD consumption. The doses used were comparable to those recommended by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) for intraperitoneal injection in mice.
The study included 27 pregnant mice in each group, and the researchers closely monitored the animals throughout pregnancy. They tracked weight gain to ensure healthy fetal development and removed any mice that did not gain adequate weight during pregnancy.
Blood samples from mice were collected at different time points and analyzed to quantify CBD and its metabolites using specialized equipment. This allowed the researchers to confirm the presence of CBD and its breakdown products in the plasma of mice.
Researchers found that male offspring exposed to CBD during fetal development had increased sensitivity to heat pain. This means that they responded more strongly to thermal stimuli. This effect was associated with the TRPV1 receptor, which is activated by CBD and heat. Interestingly, the researchers found that this increased susceptibility was not observed in female offspring.
On the other hand, the offspring of women exposed to CBD during fetal development showed decreased problem-solving abilities. This was assessed using the puzzle box test, which measures cognitive functions related to the prefrontal cortex. The study also found that fetal CBD exposure reduced the excitability of pyramidal neurons in the prefrontal cortex in women. This effect was not observed in male offspring.
“These preclinical studies suggest that CBD consumption during pregnancy is not without risk to the developing baby,” Bates told PsyPost. “Pregnant people should talk to their doctor about the best alternatives for treating nausea and other pregnancy symptoms.”
In contrast to previous studies, fetal CBD exposure did not appear to have a significant effect on anxiety-like behavior or obsessive-compulsive behavior in offspring. Multiple behavioral tests were conducted, including an open field test, a light-dark box test, and an elevated zero maze test. However, the results showed no substantial differences between the CBD-exposed and control groups in these aspects.
“We were surprised that CBD exposure during pregnancy had no effect on anxiety behavior in mice, as cannabis exposure during pregnancy is associated with increased incidence of anxiety in humans, and CBD may reduce anxiety. “Because it activates the receptors that regulate it,” Bates said. “But we tested anxiety thoroughly and found no difference with treatment.”
Although this study provides valuable insight into the potential effects of CBD exposure on the fetus, there are some important limitations that should be considered. First, this study was conducted in mice, and it is still unclear how well these findings apply to humans. Second, this study focused on a specific set of behavioral and physiological responses, and the broader effects of CBD exposure on neurodevelopment require further investigation. Additionally, this study used a specific dose of CBD, and different doses may have different effects.
“Our study was completed using very high doses of CBD to uncover the subtle effects of CBD on brain development,” Bates explained. “However, we are currently studying how low-dose maternal CBD intake affects offspring development.”
the study, “Fetal cannabidiol (CBD) exposure alters thermal pain sensitivity, problem-solving ability, and prefrontal cortex excitability” is written by Carly S. Swenson, Luis E. Gomez Urschner, Victoria M. Hoelscher, Lillian Foltz, Kamryn M. Korth, Wong Chan Oh, and Emily Ann Bates.