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Marijuana toxicity in young rats

A reasonably respectable German study shows that:

"There is strong evidence that THC, the main psychoactive component of marijuana, crosses the placenta, that maternal marijuana abuse results in intrauterine growth retardation and that infants exposed to marijuana exhibit a temporary syndrome that includes lethargy and decreased muscle tone. Fetal exposure to THC can also result in attention deficits, learning disabilities and behavioral problems. "

Which probably will come as no surprise - either on a common sense level, or considering that another study found that endocannabinoids are significant in brain development.

Posted By Psychotrophic at 2008-04-08 18:37:41 permalink | comments
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hummus erectus. : 2008-04-09 21:02:41
...and I'd love to know how scienticians can divine "permanent deficits" - is there some sort of scientific crystal ball that I don't know about that detects how a person's body will be functioning in 20 years?
strangebrewstrat : 2008-04-09 12:56:57
I forgot to add that the contention that "Fetal exposure to THC can also result in attention deficits, learning disabilities and behavioral problems," needs to be examined through the lense of correlation, not causation, until they prove a causative effect through a biological mechanism. It is entirely possible that those that are most likely to consume marijuana while pregnant (or at least admit to it for the sake of a statistical study) are those without access to adequate prenatal care or those living in less than ideal conditions which may play a greater causative role in child development than THC. I can say that because the article itself acknowledged that they would have to study the rats for longer periods of time in order to see how the neuronal effect played out in later stages...thus indicating that that statement did not pertain to the results of the study at hand.
Squid Doctor. : 2008-04-09 12:35:12
Alcohol obviously messes up babies. Along with things like crack. Cannabis might if over consumed during critical stages of development. Although according to Herer/E.W.N.C. marijauna in various forms was the first, second, and third most prescribed medecine from 1850 up through the 1930's. So wouldn't we all be a bunch of retards at this point? Wait, I take that back...we are a bunch of retards;)
Seriously though what about horrible food? I'm sure food/nutrients is one of the biggest factor in growth. I know plenty of adult acid/mushroom babies, and they seem to be just fine.
strangebrewstrat : 2008-04-09 12:05:14
I find it interesting that the most damning claim made in the article (quoted in the above blog-post) is completely unsubstantiated by the remainder of the text. Indeed, the sum of it only says that pure THC combined with alcohol (and only in combination) induced widespread nerve cell death in young rats, while THC alone had no such effect. I'll also make a note not to inject my infant with anti-convulsants or phenobarbital in combination with pure THC.

It is well known that THC causes apoptosis (cell death) in cancerous lines and other very weakened cells, so perhaps that is what is in effect here. That's not a bad thing. Anandamide (the brain's natural cannabinoid) also regulates cell survival, so perhaps the level of alcohol given was indeed neurotoxic, just on a minor level and this was a way of disposing with the damaged cells. Because neurons are chained together, the whole can only be as strong as its weakest link (I know, that's a simplification).

"That infants exposed to marijuana exhibit a temporary syndrome that includes lethargy and decreased muscle tone" should not surprise us as these are considered primary effects of THC and are, according to the article itself, only temporary.

I also have reason to call into question this article because prior studies have shown that THC protects against the neurotoxicity induced by binge drinking. Of course, being a developing brain, that may not come into play here. The fact that this is pure THC should also be examined as the other cannabinoids, particularly CBD, have been shown to have further neuroprotective effects and mitigate some of the less desirable effects of THC. Thus, the results cannot necessarily be extrapolated to marijuana as a whole plant which contains a blend of cannabinoids.

The article concludes, “With the use of behavioral and stereological techniques such studies would explore whether acute changes reflect permanent neuronal loss and lead to behavioural deficits.” So in essence, they don't know what any of this means.

All of that said, I am not advocating use of marijuana by pregnant women or the administration of cannabinoids to infants. I am merely suggesting that MUCH more research is necessary before any conclusions can be drawn.

*I would be interested in a further examination of the effect of alcohol (ethanol) on CB1 receptors, since they seem to be implicated in the article through the discussion of the CB1 receptor blocker Rimonabant being responsible for blocking ethanol toxicity.

lumpy hogg. : 2008-04-09 09:53:20
Life ain't easy for us young rats.
hummus erectus. : 2008-04-08 19:03:46
from: [link]

"Earlier studies have already found that children of marijuana-smoking mothers more frequently suffer from permanent cognitive deficits, concentration disorders, hyperactivity, and impaired social interactions than non-exposed children of the same age and social background."

I'd love to know what else is factored in here, as the above seems like a pretty common list of modern childhood dysfunctions. Not to say that mother's should be smoking ganj while pregnant, but studies like this always garner the old raised eyebrow...

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