CBD Passed through Placenta by Expectant Mothers Potentially Endanger Fetal Brains

CBD Passed through Placenta by Expectant Mothers Potentially Endanger Fetal Brains

Colorado researchers have made a significant discovery that CBD can pass through the placenta of pregnant women and accumulate in the fetal brain, potentially harming unborn babies. The research, conducted by a team at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, supports the warnings from health officials about the potential risks of this widely available compound.

“This study is essential for informing clinicians and pregnant patients that consuming CBD during pregnancy may affect the brain development of offspring,” said Emily Bates, Associate Professor at the university’s Anschutz Medical Campus. “We need clinicians to start discussing CBD consumption during prenatal visits and educate the public about the potential risks during pregnancy.”

The research paper was recently published in Molecular Psychiatry, a scientific journal published by Springer Nature in Berlin.

‘Important now’

“This is now more important than ever because CBD has recently become federally legal and is available in grocery stores and gas stations,” Bates said.

“Thousands of pregnant women experience nausea each year. Nausea can be relieved with cannabidiol (CBD),” the research paper states. “However, it is unknown how fetal CBD exposure affects embryonic development and postnatal outcomes.”

The research team discovered that high doses of CBD taken orally during pregnancy impaired problem-solving abilities in female mice and reduced activity in the pre-frontal cortex, which is an important part of the brain for learning.

‘Cognitive impairment’

“We demonstrate that fetal exposure to CBD reduces problem-solving behaviors in female offspring exposed to CBD,” the research paper’s abstract states.

While cognitive impairments were only observed in females, increased pain sensitivity occurred only in male mice, according to the study. Bates explained that further research is necessary to understand why the effects of CBD differ between sexes.

The next step for the researchers is to determine whether the timing and doses of CBD during different trimesters of pregnancy impact the frequency and severity of these impairments. Furthermore, additional research is needed to identify sensitive periods of CBD exposure, investigate the interaction of CBD with other cannabinoids like THC, and explore different effects based on how the compounds are administered, as stated in the research paper.

FDA echoes warnings

The U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) has consistently expressed concerns about the potential harmful effects of CBD on pregnant women and fetuses, young children, the elderly, and the liver and male reproductive system. In a paper released in March, based on existing clinical studies, the FDA concluded that further research is needed on the long-term consumption of CBD.

Currently, the FDA recognizes CBD as a drug, which technically prohibits its use in food or marketing it as a dietary supplement. In January, the agency stated that there is insufficient knowledge about CBD products to regulate them as foods or supplements, and it has urged lawmakers to intervene in resolving issues related to the compound.

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