Tag Archives: Real risks associated with cannabis exposure during pregnancy

University of Western Ontario study: Real risks associated with cannabis exposure during pregnancy

19 Jan

The National Institute on Drug (NIH) Abuse article What is medical marijuana?

The term medical marijuana refers to using the whole, unprocessed marijuana plant or its basic extracts to treat symptoms of illness and other conditions. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not recognized or approved the marijuana plant as medicine.
However, scientific study of the chemicals in marijuana, called cannabinoids, has led to two FDA-approved medications that contain cannabinoid chemicals in pill form. Continued research may lead to more medications.
Because the marijuana plant contains chemicals that may help treat a range of illnesses and symptoms, many people argue that it should be legal for medical purposes. In fact, a growing number of states have legalized marijuana for medical use.
Why isn’t the marijuana plant an FDA-approved medicine?
The FDA requires carefully conducted studies (clinical trials) in hundreds to thousands of human subjects to determine the benefits and risks of a possible medication. So far, researchers haven’t conducted enough large-scale clinical trials that show that the benefits of the marijuana plant (as opposed to its cannabinoid ingredients) outweigh its risks in patients it’s meant to treat.
Read more about the various physical, mental, and behavioral effects of marijuana in our Marijuana DrugFacts.
Medical Marijuana Laws and Prescription Opioid Use Outcomes
A new study underscores the need for additional research on the effect of medical marijuana laws on opioid overdose deaths and cautions against drawing a causal connection between the two. Early research suggested that there may be a relationship between the availability of medical marijuana and opioid analgesic overdose mortality. In particular, a NIDA-funded study published in 2014 found that from 1999 to 2010, states with medical cannabis laws experienced slower rates of increase in opioid analgesic overdose death rates compared to states without such laws.1
A 2019 analysis, also funded by NIDA, re-examined this relationship using data through 2017. Similar to the findings reported previously, this research team found that opioid overdose mortality rates between 1999-2010 in states allowing medical marijuana use were 21% lower than expected. When the analysis was extended through 2017, however, they found that the trend reversed, such that states with medical cannabis laws experienced an overdose death rate 22.7% higher than expected.2 The investigators uncovered no evidence that either broader cannabis laws (those allowing recreational use) or more restrictive laws (those only permitting the use of marijuana with low tetrahydrocannabinol concentrations) were associated with changes in opioid overdose mortality rates.
These data, therefore, do not support the interpretation that access to cannabis reduces opioid overdose. Indeed, the authors note that neither study provides evidence of a causal relationship between marijuana access and opioid overdose deaths. Rather, they suggest that the associations are likely due to factors the researchers did not measure, and they caution against drawing conclusions on an individual level from ecological (population-level) data. Research is still needed on the potential medical benefits of cannabis or cannabinoids.
Read more in our Marijuana Research Report. https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/marijuana/marijuana-safe-effective-medicine https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/marijuana-medicine

Resources:

Marijuana medical benefits – large review finds very few https://www.skepticalraptor.com/skepticalraptorblog.php/marijuana-medical-benefits-large-review/

Marijuana and Cannabinoids | NCCIH
https://nccih.nih.gov/health/marijuana

See, https://drwilda.com/tag/marijuana/

Science Daily reported the Lancet study: Insufficient evidence that medicinal cannabinoids improve mental health:

Meta-analysis finds inadequate evidence that cannabinoids relieve depression, anxiety disorders, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, Tourette syndrome, post-traumatic stress disorder, or psychosis.
The most comprehensive analysis of medicinal cannabinoids and their impact on six mental health disorders — combining 83 studies including 3,000 people — suggests that the use of cannabinoids for mental health conditions cannot be justified based on the current evidence. This is due to a lack of evidence for their effectiveness, and because of the known risks of cannabinoids.
The new findings, published in The Lancet Psychiatry journal, find insufficient evidence medicinal cannabinoids improve disorders overall or their symptoms, although there is a very low quality evidence that pharmaceutical tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) may lead to a small improvement in symptoms of anxiety in individuals with other medical conditions, such as chronic pain or multiple sclerosis.
Medicinal cannabinoids include medicinal cannabis and pharmaceutical cannabinoids, and their synthetic derivatives, THC and cannabidiol (CBD). Around the world, these are increasingly being made available for medicinal purposes (e.g. in the United States, Australia, and Canada), including for the treatment of mental health disorders. However, there are concerns around the adverse effects of this availability, as there is a large body of evidence indicating that non-medicinal cannabis use can increase the occurrence of depression, anxiety, and psychotic symptoms.
Professor Louisa Degenhardt of the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre (NDARC) at UNSW Sydney, Australia, and lead author of the study says: “Our findings have important implications in countries where cannabis and cannabinoids are being made available for medical use. There is a notable absence of high-quality evidence to properly assess the effectiveness and safety of medicinal cannabinoids compared with placebo, and until evidence from randomised controlled trials is available, clinical guidelines cannot be drawn up around their use in mental health disorders.”
She continues: “In countries where medicinal cannabinoids are already legal, doctors and patients must be aware of the limitations of existing evidence and the risks of cannabinoids. These must be weighed when considering use to treat symptoms of common mental health disorders. Those who decide to proceed should be carefully monitored for positive and negative mental health effects of using medicinal cannabinoids.”
This study follows The Lancet Series on Drug Use, which includes a paper on cannabis where the authors assess the current and possible future public health impacts of the legalisation of cannabis production, sale, and use in the Americas. They summarise the overall evidence on medicinal use of cannabinoids, regulation, and how medicinal use may have affected recreational use.
The authors set out to examine the available evidence for all types of medicinal cannabinoids. They included all study designs and investigated the impact on remission from and symptoms of six mental health disorders in adults: depression, anxiety, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), Tourette syndrome, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and psychosis.
They included published and unpublished studies between 1980 and 2018 and included 83 eligible studies, 40 of which were randomised controlled trials (RCTs) (the others were open-label trials, where participants knew which treatment they were taking). Of the 83 studies, 42 looked at depression (including 23 RCTs), 31 looked at anxiety (17 RCTs), eight looked at Tourette syndrome (two RCTs), three were on ADHD (one RCT), 12 were on PTSD (one RCT), and 11 were on psychosis (six RCTs).
In most RCTs examining depression and anxiety, the primary reason for cannabinoid use was for another medical condition such as chronic non-cancer pain or multiple sclerosis. In the studies looking at the other four disorders, the cannabinoid was used to treat the mental health disorder. Few randomised controlled trials examined the role of pharmaceutical CBD or medicinal cannabis; most looked at THC, with or without CBD.
The authors found that pharmaceutical THC (with or without CBD) improved anxiety symptoms among individuals with other medical conditions (seven studies of 252 people), though this may have been due to improvements in the primary medical condition. The authors suggest further research should explicitly study the effects of cannabinoids on anxiety and depression…. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/10/191028213912.htm

Citation:

Insufficient evidence that medicinal cannabinoids improve mental health
Date: October 28, 2019
Source: The Lancet
Summary:
The most comprehensive analysis of medicinal cannabinoids and their impact on six mental health disorders — combining 83 studies including 3,000 people — suggests that the use of cannabinoids for mental health conditions cannot be justified based on the current evidence. This is due to a lack of evidence for their effectiveness, and because of the known risks of cannabinoids.

Journal Reference:
Nicola Black, Emily Stockings, Gabrielle Campbell, Lucy T Tran, Dino Zagic, Wayne D Hall, Michael Farrell, Louisa Degenhardt. Cannabinoids for the treatment of mental disorders and symptoms of mental disorders: a systematic review and meta-analysis. The Lancet Psychiatry, 2019; DOI: 10.1016/S2215-0366(19)30401-8

Science Daily reported in Real risks associated with cannabis exposure during pregnancy:

A new study from researchers at Western University and Queen’s University definitively shows that regular exposure to THC, the main psychoactive ingredient in cannabis, during pregnancy has significant impact on placental and fetal development. With more than a year since the legalization of recreational cannabis in Canada, the effects of its use during pregnancy are only now beginning to be understood.
The study, published today in Scientific Reports, uses a rat model and human placental cells to show that maternal exposure to THC during pregnancy has a measurable impact on both the development of the organs of the fetus and the gene expression that is essential to placental function.
The researchers demonstrated in a rat model that regular exposure to a low-dose of THC that mimics daily use of cannabis during pregnancy led to a reduction in birth weight of 8 per cent and decreased brain and liver growth by more than 20 per cent.
“This data supports clinical studies that suggest cannabis use during pregnancy it is associated with low birth weight babies. Clinical data is complicated because it is confounded by other factors such as socioeconomic status,” said Dan Hardy, PhD, Associate Professor at Western’s Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry and co-author on the paper. “This is the first study to definitively support the fact that THC alone has a direct impact on placental and fetal growth.”
The research team was also able to characterize how THC prevents oxygen and nutrients from crossing the placenta into the developing fetus. By studying human placental cells, the researchers found that exposure to THC caused a decrease in a glucose transporter called GLUT-1. This indicates that the THC is preventing the placental transfer of glucose, a key nutrient, from the mother to the fetus. They also found a reduction in placental vasculature in the rat model suggesting reduced blood flow from the mother to the fetus.
The researchers say both of those factors are likely contributing to the growth restriction that they observed in the offspring….
“Marjiuana has been legalized in Canada and in many states in the US, however, its use during pregnancy has not been well studied up until this point. This study is important to support clinicians in communicating the very real risks associated with cannabis use during pregnancy,” said David Natale, PhD, Associate Professor at Queen’s and co-author on the paper.
https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/01/200117104756.htm

Citation:

Real risks associated with cannabis exposure during pregnancy
Date: January 17, 2020
Source: University of Western Ontario
Summary:
A new study has definitively shown that regular exposure to THC, the main psychoactive ingredient in cannabis, during pregnancy has significant impact on placental and fetal development.

Journal Reference:
Bryony V. Natale, Katarina N. Gustin, Kendrick Lee, Alison C. Holloway, Steven R. Laviolette, David R. C. Natale, Daniel B. Hardy. Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol exposure during rat pregnancy leads to symmetrical fetal growth restriction and labyrinth-specific vascular defects in the placenta. Scientific Reports, 2020; 10 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41598-019-57318-6

Here is the press release from the University of Western Ontario:

JANUARY 17, 2020

Research shows real risks associated with cannabis exposure during pregnancy
by University of Western Ontario

The study, published today in Scientific Reports, uses a rat model and human placental cells to show that maternal exposure to THC during pregnancy has a measurable impact on both the development of the organs of the fetus and the gene expression that is essential to placental function.
The researchers demonstrated in a rat model that regular exposure to a low-dose of THC that mimics daily use of cannabis during pregnancy led to a reduction in birth weight of 8 per cent and decreased brain and liver growth by more than 20 per cent.
“This data supports clinical studies that suggest cannabis use during pregnancy it is associated with low birth weight babies. Clinical data is complicated because it is confounded by other factors such as socioeconomic status,” said Dan Hardy, Ph.D., Associate Professor at Western’s Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry and co-author on the paper. “This is the first study to definitively support the fact that THC alone has a direct impact on placental and fetal growth.”
The research team was also able to characterize how THC prevents oxygen and nutrients from crossing the placenta into the developing fetus. By studying human placental cells, the researchers found that exposure to THC caused a decrease in a glucose transporter called GLUT-1. This indicates that the THC is preventing the placental transfer of glucose, a key nutrient, from the mother to the fetus. They also found a reduction in placental vasculature in the rat model suggesting reduced blood flow from the mother to the fetus.
The researchers say both of those factors are likely contributing to the growth restriction that they observed in the offspring.
The researchers point out that there are currently no clear guidelines from Health Canada on the use of cannabis in pregnancy and some studies have shown that up to one in five women are using cannabis during pregnancy to prevent morning sickness, for anxiety or for social reasons.
“Marjiuana has been legalized in Canada and in many states in the US, however, its use during pregnancy has not been well studied up until this point. This study is important to support clinicians in communicating the very real risks associated with cannabis use during pregnancy,” said David Natale, Ph.D., Associate Professor at Queen’s and co-author on the paper.
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Explore further
Pot while pregnant: medicine doctors urge caution
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More information: Bryony V. Natale et al, Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol exposure during rat pregnancy leads to symmetrical fetal growth restriction and labyrinth-specific vascular defects in the placenta, Scientific Reports (2020). DOI: 10.1038/s41598-019-57318-6
Journal information: Scientific Reports
Provided by University of Western Ontario

THE JURY IS OUT ON THE MEDICAL USES OF MARIJUANA.

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