Budding Parents Beware
Investigating the effects of prenatal exposure to cannabis on retinal development
Geoffrey Potjewyd | | Quick Read
Cannabis use is increasingly being legalized and researched for therapeutic uses – but how does prenatal exposure affect eyesight? Researchers in Brazil have shown that prenatal cannabis exposure may cause structural changes in the retina (1). Pregnant mice exposed to cannabis smoke for five minutes daily produced offspring with 17 percent thinner retinas in young adulthood. Although retina thickness returned to the same levels as those of non-exposed mice by adulthood, this indicates that children who are exposed prenatally to cannabis may require more frequent ophthalmic care. Evidence of this phenomenon in humans will be a key next step, but prenatal cannabis exposure is already known to cause reduced birth weight (2, 3) and cognitive effects in humans (4).
Potential therapeutic uses of cannabis are increasingly being investigated, but there is always the need for caution around developing nervous systems – a warning to budding parents.
- PRA Zantut et al., Int J Retina Vitreous, 7, 45 (2021). PMID: 34193310.
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- AC Huizink, EJH Mulder, Neurosci Biobehav Rev, 30, 24 (2006). PMID: 16095697.