Initial tests suggest mothers who use drugs could increase their children's chances of using.It has long been a controversial and sensitive topic in many countries, but new research suggests startling evidence related to teenage use of marijuana. Researchers from the Neuroscience and Reproductive Biology section at Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine have undertaken a study that seeks to investigate the effects cannabinoid exposure can have on adolescent female rats.
After brief exposure in the adolescent stage the female rats were left to mate later into adulthood as normal. The results are interesting and while not absolute indicators of similar effects on humans, they are a worrying sign indeed. The offspring of the exposed female rats showed significant increases in the inclination to seek the intake of morphine than the control group.
"Our main interest lies in determining whether substances commonly used during adolescence can induce behavioural and neurochemical changes that may then influence the development of future generations," said Research Assistant Professor John J. Byrnes, the study's lead author, "We acknowledge that we are using rodent models, which may not fully translate to the human condition. Nevertheless, the results suggest that maternal drug use, even prior to pregnancy, can impact future offspring."
Smoking or ingesting marijuana during youth is generally considered a negative and potentially damaging activity, with research also showing potential links to increases in schizophrenia.
There is also the difficult topic of illegality and its links to increased chances of further drug use, known as the “gateway” effect. This is a social aspect instead of a biological one; young teenagers that purchase marijuana expose themselves to drug dealers that offer other, harder substances as well to augment their business and profits. This study is yet more information that helps the argument and body of advice that aims to keep children and teenagers away from marijuana.
While this topic is a difficult one and very hard to uniformly police with our youth, it is often the way of things that education on the subject at an early age is a strong method of preventing future use and addiction. Studies such as these are important in building a solid portfolio of proof and information to make such arguments more persuasive to our youth.