Marijuana use during pregnancy associated with autism in babies, study finds

A large Canadian study found an association between maternal cannabis use during pregnancy and autism spectrum disorder in babies. The study, published Monday in Nature Medicine, involved an analysis of all live births in Ontario from April 2007 to March 2012, before recreational cannabis was legalized in Canada. The study notes that cannabis use during pregnancy has increased. Of half a million women in the study, 3,000, or 0.6%, reported using cannabis during pregnancy, according to a hospital press release on the study. Specifically, researchers found that women who used cannabis during pregnancy were 1.5 times more likely to have a child with autism, per Forbes. “The incidence of intellectual disability and learning disorders was higher among offspring of mothers who use cannabis in pregnancy, although less statistically robust,” the study authors wrote. In a separate study conducted by the same researchers, they previously found that cannabis use in pregnancy was linked to an increased risk of preterm birth. The women involved in that study often used other substances like tobacco, alcohol, and opioids. “Considering those findings, in the current study the researchers specifically looked at 2,200 women who reported using only cannabis during pregnancy, and no other substances. They found that babies born to this group still had an increased risk of autism compared to those who did not use cannabis,” per the press release. The study had limits, however. Researchers don’t know the amount of cannabis used, the point at which women used cannabis during pregnancy, or how the cannabis was consumed. Researchers emphasized caution when interpreting the results because, despite efforts to control for other factors, other variables may be at play. The study, therefore, shows association — not cause and effect. Still, the study’s senior author called the results “concerning.” “This is concerning because we know so little about how cannabis affects pregnant women and their babies,” said Dr. Mark Walker, chief of the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Newborn Care at The Ottawa Hospital, professor at the University of Ottawa and senior author on the study. “Parents-to-be should inform themselves of the possible risks, and we hope studies like ours can help.”

Soo.. Don’t smoke pot if you’re pregnant.  Seems like common sense…

Study: Women in the U.S. Are Increasingly Using Pot During Pregnancy

A new study shows that women in the United States are increasingly using marijuana during pregnancy to treat morning sickness, the Associated Press reports. Almost four percent of pregnant women in 2014 said they had recently used marijuana, up from 2.4 percent in 2002, according to an analysis of annual drug use surveys. This study analyzed the results of 200,510 women of reproductive age who responded to annual U.S. government surveys of drug use. The trend has raised some concerns in the medical community, as doctors have warned that marijuana use during pregnancy can cause low birth weight, premature birth, and behavior problems in young children. Dr. Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, said the results of the survey raise concerns and urged medical professionals to avoid recommending the drug for pregnant women. A separate study found that almost 10 percent of adult marijuana users—about three million people—have used it at least partly for medical reasons; 20 percent of these users live in states where medical marijuana isn’t legal. The study analyzed past-year marijuana use by nearly 100,000 adults aged 18 and up who participated in the 2013-14 drug survey. About 13 percent said they had used marijuana in that survey. The majority of users—90 percent—used it for nonmedical reasons only, and six percent used it only for medical reasons. Volkow said that laws legalizing medical marijuana in 29 states and the District of Columbia don’t include pregnancy-related conditions as approved uses, but don’t prohibit the use of medical marijuana for that reason either or include warnings about possible harms to an unborn baby. One theory about how marijuana use can lead to problems in an unborn child is that it might interfere with nerve cells and circuits in the brain during development of the fetus, Volkow said. The AMA pushed for regulations in November that would require warnings about marijuana use during pregnancy and breast-feeding to be displayed on medical and recreational marijuana products.

That would make a LOT of sense.  To be clear, here at The Daily Buzz, we really couldn’t care less if adults use marijuana for recreational or medical purposes..  But, you have to be a special kind of stupid to use it while being pregnant.  And, since there are those people out there with the IQ of a chihuahua, it’s probably smart to put such warnings out there.  Just sayin..

Mother’s smoking during pregnancy affects baby’s DNA

Pregnant women now have another reason to quit smoking – a new analysis links it to differences in their babies’ DNA that mirror alterations in adult smokers and suggest how smoking might contribute to certain birth defects. Researchers analyzed data on mothers and their newborn children to see how smoking influences DNA methylation, a chemical code along the DNA strand that controls some DNA mechanics and when genes get activated. Whether certain points along the DNA molecule are methylated or not can determine everything from eye color to a person’s predisposition to certain diseases. When women smoked daily during pregnancy, researchers identified 6,073 places where their babies’ DNA was methylated differently from the DNA of nonsmokers’ infants. Many of the differences were found on or near a collection of genes related to lung and nervous system development, smoking-related cancers and birth defects such as cleft lip and palate. “We already knew that smoking during pregnancy, or after the child is born, is to be avoided at all costs,” said senior study author Dr. Stephanie London, deputy chief of the epidemiology branch at the National Institute of Environmental and Health Sciences in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina. “This study provides more evidence – signals you can see at birth that are similar to signals you can see in adult smokers,” London added by email. Researchers pooled results from 6,685 mothers and their newborns from studies performed around the world. Most of the women said they didn’t smoke, but about 13 percent of the women were daily smokers and another 25 percent admitted to occasional smoking during pregnancy. To analyze methylation patterns in newborns’ DNA, researchers collected samples mainly from blood in the umbilical cord after delivery. In addition to documenting differences between the infants of nonsmokers and regular smokers, the researchers looked at a smaller group of older children and found that at least some of the smoking-related methylation differences in the children of mothers who were smokers during pregnancy persisted. While the study doesn’t prove how maternal smoking may influence child development or disease, the findings suggest that DNA methylation differences might be involved in the appearance of certain birth defects or medical problems in babies born to mothers who smoke, the authors conclude in The American Journal of Human Genetics. It’s possible that smoking during pregnancy might hijack systems in babies that determine how DNA is deployed and alter programs in the cells in a way that impacts future health, said Andrea Baccarelli, an environmental epigenetics researcher at Harvard University in Boston, who wasn’t involved in the study. It’s also possible that programs in the cells might change to adapt in response to smoking to cope with its adverse effects, Baccarelli added by email. “I have likened this to a musical score, where the DNA is the score itself,” Baccarelli said. “You can imagine how the performers, in advance of the premier, might add marks to the score. They don’t modify the score, but they modify the way the score is executed.” Even if the reasons for these cellular changes aren’t certain, the message for patients is clear, said Paul Fowler, a director of the Institute of Medical Sciences at the University of Aberdeen in the U.K.