A study by researchers at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus indicated that cannabidiol (CBD) has potentially adverse effects on fetal development. The researchers published the study in Molecular Psychiatry.
Some expectant mothers use the non-psychoactive compound CBD to ease nausea and anxiety during pregnancy. Although CBD is generally safe and well tolerated by most adults, CBD consumption can harm the fetus because CBD is transmitted from mother to child by the placenta and accumulates in the fetal brain.
The study showed that CBD’s impact on fetal cognitive function is a critical risk. University of Colorado School of Medicine associate professor Dr. Emily Bates said, “We found oral consumption of a high dose of CBD during pregnancy impaired problem-solving in female mice.” The findings emphasize the importance of medical professionals and patients discussing CBD exposure and its potential effects on fetal brain development. This study helps raise public awareness of the risks associated with CBD consumption during pregnancy.
The team discovered that fetal exposure to CBD reduced the excitability of the prefrontal cortex. This part of the brain plays a critical role in learning. The findings also showed that only male mice experienced increased pain sensitivity, while cognitive impairments happened only in females. The study revealed that CBD did not affect factors such as pregnancy length, gestational weight gain, or sex of offspring.
The study can inform discussions between physicians and patients, and educational awareness can reduce risks during pregnancy. The study found infants exposed to CBD during gestation were more sensitive to heat or thermal pain than offspring that were not. The team plans to investigate to what extent the timing and doses of CBD during each trimester contribute to impaired development.