Scientists have shown for the first time that gestational exposure to marijuana smoke in animals affects the development of the eye and these alterations seem to progress with age. The research is being presented during a press conference at the 2017 Annual Meeting of the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO) in Baltimore, Md., on Monday, May 8 from 9:30 – 10:15am.
Pregnant mice were exposed daily throughout the entire pregnancy to either marijuana smoke (in doses that mimic human exposure) or to filtered air. After birth, the newborn mice were evaluated at three, six and 12 months of age. The retinas of mice whose mothers had been exposed prenatally to marijuana were significantly thinner. The findings further suggested that the retinas thickness did not normalize as the mice aged.
The retina is part of the central nervous system and little is known about the effects of maternal cannabis use on retinal development on the offspring and its potential postnatal consequences. Exposure to drugs during pregnancy is a growing issue worldwide, and marijuana use is becoming decriminalized throughout the U.S.