How cannabis is good for children

There is one respect in which cannabis benefits the brains of your offspring.

cannabis brain

Cannabis is good for this. Photo:
Allan Ajifo

While the link between smoking cannabis while pregnant and premature birth has long been known, a 2012 study by Adelaide University that covered more than 3,000 women discovered that there was 2.3 times the risk if smoking transpired in the three months before pregnancy. Professor Claire Roberts of the university’s Robinson Institute remarked, ?The quality or the health of your eggs is going to depend a lot on what you did prior to conception.?

Another study, this time by Auckland University and published on 19 November 2015 in Nature: Scientific Reports, has found how smoking cannabis while parturient is good for the brain: it improves one aspect of visual brain development. 145 children no more than four-and-a-half years old were assessed. The study, which began in 2010, was funded by the US National Institute of Drug Abuse.

So what’s better?

Children exposed to marijuana while in the womb were nearly 50 percent better at a test of ?global motion perception? than were others, with the effect increasing with frequency and quantity of smoking. Children were presented with a computer screen displaying a set of dots moving in one direction and another moving in random directions and asked to say which way the first set was moving. Neuroscience researcher Arjit Chakraborty likened this to identifying a single moving car where many were present, as they would be at a busy intersection. This detects processing difficulties that can escape detection during clinical eye examination retina scans which examine only structural deformities. Chakraborty advised that it would be good for the brains of children if they were routinely given global motion tests to identify deeper neurological problems.

And what about other drugs?

Cannabis is good for the brain but alcohol is bad. Babies exposed to alcohol in utero performed worse at the test, showing yet again that alcohol is worse than cannabis, just in case you never saw a guy who was stoned beating a guy who was drunk in a fight. Methamphetamine and nicotine had no effect. None of the drugs studied influenced visual acuity, ie clarity of vision. The study did not rely solely on mothers self-reporting: there was meconium analysis, where meconium is the first stool of a newborn infant, which is comprised of materials absorbed in the uterus and dark green. Chakraborty commented that the study ?perhaps has implications for preventing some of the effects of Foetal Alcohol Syndrome.”

The upshot

Previous studies mostly examined motor and cognitive functions. The headline in the Times of India read, ?Kids born to women using weed have good vision: study,? but while cannabis might be good for the brain in this respect, it impaired performance on tests of attention, executive function and memory, in addition to increasing the danger of premature birth. Chakraborty recommended that instead of undertaking experiments at home, women should await the results of scientific study.

It cures cancer, it relieves depression and now cannabis is thought to prevent kidney failure

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