Drug abuse is a major public health issue. Drugs may alter gene expression (epigenetics), with detrimental health implications. read more
The impact of maternal cannabis use during pregnancy on neurodevelopment genes in exposed offspring
Substance use during pregnancy is a large driver of health inequalities in exposed children. Globally, cannabis use in pregnant women is increasing, yet there is limited understanding of its effects on offspring exposed during development. Epidemiological and associative research from humans and animals shows increasing evidence that maternal cannabis use during pregnancy can have a negative influence on the brain development of exposed offspring. However, it is not yet established whether this relationship is causal, partly causal, or only correlational. We do know, however, that developmentally-induced health inequalities are often driven by environmentally-induced genetic change. Thus here we aim to determine whether maternal cannabis use impacts the genome of exposed offspring at genes involved in neurodevelopment. This would fill the knowledge gap around the association between maternal cannabis use in pregnancy and offspring neurodevelopment. It will also provide clarity around the potential risks of maternal cannabis use during pregnancy, and what this might mean for the health outcomes of exposed children.
Dr Osborne’s research interests lie in environmental epigenetics, DNA methylation, genome regulation, and developmental origins of health and disease.More About Dr Amy Osborne