Marijuana use in pregnancy may raise risks of addiction for baby boys

Smoking weed during pregnancy could put a developing baby at higher risk of addiction - but only if it's a boy, rat study suggests In recent years, the number of American women using marijuana in pregnancy has been on the rise, despite many doctors' advice against doing so  Little is known about how a pregnant woman's marijuana use affects her fetus An Italian study found that the brains of rats exposed to THC, weed's psychoactive ingredient, in the womb produce more dopamine  But the phenomenon was only true in male rats, the Cagliari University study found  Excess dopamine is linked to greater risk for addiction and risk-taking behavior

By Natalie Rahhal Deputy Health Editor For Dailymail.com

Published: 23:19 BST, 14 October 2019 | Updated: 23:20 BST, 14 October 2019

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Using cannabis during pregnancy could cause harmful brain changes to a developing baby - but only if it's a boy, a new study in rats suggests.  

Male rats exposed to THC - the ingredient in marijuana that gets users high - while in the womb produced more dopamine as they grew up.

In humans the neuro-transmitter increases pleasure from activities such as gambling, sex and addiction.

The experiments found it altered the brains and behavior of the lab rodents. The same did not apply to female offspring, say the international team.

Corresponding author Dr Miriam Melis, of Cagliari University in Monserrato, said exposure to the drug in the womb may fuel risk-taking behaviors in teenage boys.

When developing rats were exposed to THC, weed's active ingredient, in the womb, their brains made excess dopamine, which could raise their risks for addiction - but it only held true for males, Cagliari University scientists found

When developing rats were exposed to THC, weed's active ingredient, in the womb, their brains made excess dopamine, which could raise their risks for addiction - but it only held true for males, Cagliari University scientists found 

Cannabis is the most widely used drug by women at reproductive age - and not just for recreational purposes. Up to one-in-seven take it during pregnancy.

As legal access grows it has been increasingly used to treat morning sickness and anxiety.

But doctors or other medical staff seldom advise about the risks faced by mothers-to-be.

The effect on neurons was similar to those previously identified in offspring exposed in the womb to cocaine or alcohol. 

'As physicians caution pregnant women against alcohol and cocaine intake because of their detrimental effects to the fetus, based on our

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