Maternal cannabis use during pregnancy

Dr Amy Osborne is one of our recent 2021 Major Project Grants recipient and was recently featured in the media with her latest research project titled “The impact of maternal cannabis use during pregnancy on neurodevelopment genes in exposed offspring”.

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The aim of this study:
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.

This is not the first time the Foundation has been able to fund Dr Osborne’s groundbreaking work.
She was also a recipient of a Grant In Aid for her project Establishing the zebrafish as a model of drug use on the genome.
Grant In Aid funding is an excellent way to establish preliminary pilot study data in preparation for a larger, wide-reaching study, such as the above.

We look forward to Dr Osborne’s important research findings for the health and well-being outcomes for our tamariki in due course.

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