Mothers who previously used marijuana as teenagers may be putting their children at an increased risk for future drug abuse, finds a 2012 study published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology.
Conducted by researchers in the Department of Biomedical Sciences in the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University, North Grafton, MA and funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the study hypothesized that early exposure to cannabinoids would induce transgenerational effects, meaning that past drug use by a parent would have some sort of effect on that parent’s children.
To investigate the transgenerational effects of cannabinoid use, the researchers exposed adolescent female rats to a drug that has similar effects in the brain as THC, which is the active ingredient in marijuana. After being exposed to the drug for three consecutive days during adolescent development at 30 days of age, the rats were left alone until being mated at 60 days of age.
The adolescent and adult male offspring of the female rats that had been exposed to the drug were then tested for their response to morphine. The offspring of the treated rats had a greater sensitivity to morphine than the offspring of their untreated counterparts, indicating that the children of mothers who were exposed to cannabinoids during adolescence had an increased preference for opiate drugs.
As the lead author of the study Research Assistant Professor John J. Byrnes declares on Medical News Today:
“Our main interest lies in determining whether substances commonly used during adolescence can induce behavioral and neurochemical changes that may then influence the development of future generations. 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.”
In other words, teenage marijuana use can put the children of previous drug users at an increased risk for future drug abuse.
The current study builds on past research published in Behavioural Brain Research that discovered that prior opiate exposure during early adolescence in females produces alterations of morphine sensitivity in their progeny.
Do you think that the recent research that links teenage marijuana use with an increased risk for later drug abuse in future children have a positive effect on drug use by teenagers?