Over the past few years, nearly half of the US has legalized marijuana in some form. Due to its increasing popularity, pot has been sprouting up all over, with marijuana-themed adult summer camps, weed-friendly gyms and even cannabis-inspired baby names. But if you’re pregnant, or thinking about becoming pregnant, you should *definitely* steer clear of the stuff, as a new study shows that it may have long-term consequences for your baby.
According to the study, published in Biological Psychiatry, the use of cannabis during pregnancy is linked to abnormal brain development in children. By taking MRIs, a non-invasive way to look at the anatomy of the brain, the researchers looked at the brains of 54 children who were prenatally exposed to cannabis in order to test weed’s impact.
Compared to unexposed children, those who were exposed to cannabis had a thicker prefrontal cortex, the area of the brain responsible for decision-making, working memory, planning and personality development. One study even suggests that the thinness of a child’s prefrontal cortex determines their level of intelligence.
The results of this study are particularly important, as an estimated 2-5 percent of women use cannabis during pregnancy, despite the fact that The American College of Obstetrician and Gynecologists has repeatedly warned against it. While most pregnant women use marijuana to alleviate nausea and morning sickness, there are plenty of safer alternatives that have shown to be effective, like sea bands (they press on the acupressure points in your wrists), Emotional Freedom Technique, which is a combo of self-acupressure and morning sickness acceptance and making sure you’re taking the right daily vitamins with food.
Lead author of the study, Dr. Hanan El Marroun of Erasmus University Medical Center in The Netherlands, notes that while this data further highlights the importance of avoiding pot during pregnancy, further research is needed to understand the depth of its impact on fetal brain development. But for now, it seems like a pretty good idea to steer clear of pot when you’re expecting.
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