A joint study from Western and Queen’s universities finds that daily use of cannabis during pregnancy can lead to reductions in birth weight along with decreased brain and liver growth in newborns.

The research, published in the journal Scientific Reports, used a rat model and human placental cells to study the effects of THC, the main psychoactive ingredient in cannabis, on pregnant women.

Researchers found that a rat model regularly exposed to a low dose of THC during pregnancy — a dosage that’s intended to mimic the daily use of cannabis — resulted in an eight per cent reduction in birth weight, along with a more than 20 per cent decrease in brain and liver growth.

Co-author Dr. Dan Hardy said the research backs previous studies that have linked cannabis use during pregnancy to low birth weight in newborns.

“Clinical data is complicated because it is confounded by other factors such as socioeconomic status,” said Hardy.

“This is the first study to definitively support the fact that THC alone has a direct impact on placental and fetal growth.”

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