Amanda Beam | Cannabis oil changing, improving lives
Just down from lush Lexington pastures where horses graze, a winged child searches for caterpillars on a warm September evening. Her name is Paige Charles, and she hopes to be a fairy when she grows up. The costume the 13-year-old wears reflects this desire.
A quiet breeze carries the scent of earthiness from the green buds that surround her. Oil from these hemp plants has transformed Paige. With its use, she no longer rages through her days. Calmness transcends her. Within a month on the CBD oil, she became potty trained. Now she reads, something her doctors never imagined.
“She started communicating with her words,” says her mother Brenda Charles, who with her husband adopted Paige shortly after her birth. “Sometimes they were loud words, but she was using them. We were happy.”
The aggressive behaviors brought on by her autism and Fetal Alcohol Syndrome have gone away. No more restraints used on her at school. No more tantrums.
“We continue to see her beautiful personality blossom,” Brenda says. “I don’t know where we would be without it.”
Legislation enacted by both Kentucky and the federal government allowed this magic to happen for children like Paige. In 2014, KY Senate Bill 124 legalized cannabidiol, commonly called CBD, a compound found in cannabis plants. Time and time again, stories have been told about the oil’s tremendous properties to soothe a host of conditions. Seizures have been lessened. Anxiety decreased.
Through the same legislation, the Kentucky Department of Agriculture (KDA) also began both commercial licensing and a hemp pilot program, allowing farmers the chance to legally grow the once popular plant in the Bluegrass state for the first time in more than 50 years. As of 2016, 166 growers have been approved. Some experiment with industrial hemp fiber that can be turned into cloth, rope or even biofuels; others with the powerful oil that can be pressed from its buds and seeds.
But federal laws contradicted these states attempts. Folks tend to unfairly lump hemp and its cannabis cousin marijuana into the same category. While related to pot, varieties of hemp contain high levels of CBD while containing little tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the agent responsible for the mind-altering effects of marijuana. In other words, hemp and its oil can’t get users high.
With the Farm Bill of 2014, supported by Kentucky’s Sen. Mitch McConnell, the U.S. government provided support for hemp growers as well, legalizing the trade for research purposes in states that had already had enacted similar measures.
Inconsistencies about the legality of hemp within the federal government do remain. Even as the plant remains a Schedule 1 controlled substance by the DEA, the industry continues to grow.
The fields here at the Kentucky Cannabis Company in Lexington are proof of this.
For founder Bill Polyniak, farming hemp and producing CBD oil is personal. His son Colten, who had his first seizure at 3 years old, takes his product. Repeated episodes of epilepsy can damage children’s growing brains, at times irreparably. Colten was experiencing hundreds a day. Doctors told his parents that his impairments would force him to never leave their house.
After he began the CBD oil, his seizures stopped. So have the prescribed medications that wrecked his body with side effects. Now 11, Colten will play football for the first time, leading the life of a typical fifth grader.
“When you get into the history of it and you sit here and look back today, I don’t give a rat’s ass about what the federal government says. Look at what the preponderance of evidence clearly dictates,” Bill says during a tour of his 4-acre Lexington facility.
Additional fields, including 40 acres in Mercer County, have been bought as well. They sell their oil to all 50 states through their website, much of it to parents for their children. Even as a 1,000 pounds of hemp waits to be processed, the company finds it difficult to keep up with demand.
“Kentucky, for the first time, is really ahead of the game… As manufacturers make higher and higher quality stuff, you’re going to start to see epilepsy get its ass kicked,” he says with energetic optimism. “The people of Kentucky, we’re moving forward, and the whole state has hope.”
At the beginning of twilight, with an almost full moon traveling between the trees, Paige finally finds a wooly worm hidden in the edge of a greenhouse. She giggles as it tickles her palm.
Dr. Gregory Barnes, Director of University of Louisville’s Autism Center, deals in both medicine and statistics.
As part of the 2014 Kentucky legislation, the University of Louisville was allowed to conduct research and participate in Food and Drug Administration trials involving CBD oil. Barnes works with the marijuana-derived medicine Epidiolex by GW Pharmaceuticals and has conducted trials to determine its effectiveness in curbing pediatric epilepsy, in particular, a subset of the disease called Dravet Syndrome.
So far, the randomized, double-blind studies have proven successful. The medicine had a greater effect in reduction of seizures compared to the placebo. Barnes now is looking for patients with autism to participate in similar CBD-related research.
“This is, in fact, a substance that has been rigidly studied and that is in fact not psychoactive and is safe to use, especially with children and adolescents,” Barnes says, noting few side effects with the drugs.
“It’s an interesting set of compounds that has possibly diverse biological effects. That certainly is driving the interest in the medical community.”
Paradoxes within federal regulations do make the process harder.
“In my clinical practice, the federal government does not recognize my right to prescribe a Schedule I substance,” Barnes says. “Now the state law does, but the federal doesn’t. And that is the problem with the law.”
Kentucky legislators on both sides of the aisle will look to rectify the discrepancies in future sessions. And while the increased scrutiny of the trials should reassure the public, federal rescheduling of marijuana would also lessen the difficulties in obtaining and prescribing medicines and carrying out the research.
“Is it a little bit more trouble?” Barnes asks. “Most definitely it’s a little bit more trouble, but on the same token, it does guarantee to even the most rigid skeptic… that there have been incredible processes in place.”
“It’s worth it.”
In her Louisville home, Suzanne Maria De Gregorio shows a video of her son Alex as an infant trying to crawl. On the screen, her voice brings smiles to the child’s face as he inches toward her. He’s healthy in every way.
By age three, his behaviors began to change. Red flags indicated he had autism. By the time he turned six, the regression continued. Alex again needed diapers, and slowly spoke less and less. Petite Mal Epilepsy would be discovered as the cause of his decline. Silent seizures had damaged parts of his brain.
“We got him on the antiepileptic drugs, and they helped but they never were enough,” Suzanne says.
Neurological episodes would cause him to be aggressive at school, and so Suzanne quit work to care for him when he was sent home.
“The child would wake up screaming and go to bed screaming,” she says. “It was a very rough life for him.”
Alex now sits beside me showing me a selection of tea in a lunch box. He’s calm and laughs and tells me later of his favorite cakes, cookie and red velvet. Nothing is missed. He listens to everything, an all-encompassing awareness
Suzanne, who advocated for the Kentucky legislation that legalized CBD oil, sits relaxed in a chair. She asks Alex if it’s ok to speak to me about the hard times before he began taking the supplement called Charlotte’s Web. Like the product that Paige takes, this CBD-rich oil is also obtained from hemp.
Alex smiles. Suzanne takes that as a yes.
In April of 2015, after the legislation passed her son began the drops shipped from Colorado. Almost immediately, he calmed and began speaking more. His fine and gross motor skills improved, allowing him to master riding a bike for the first time since the age of five.
Best yet, his seizures stopped, and he’s down to only two anti-seizure prescription medications.
But the supplement comes at a price. The product costs $250 for a three-week supply, with insurance not covering any of the cost.
“It’s worth it,” Suzanne says. “We live it. It’s a miracle.”
And with the DEA designating marijuana and hemp as a Schedule I drug with supposed no medicinal value and, according to the agency but questioned by proponents, a high propensity for addiction, parents of children who benefit from these derivatives are worried. Enforcement or a shift in priorities could halt the sale of these much-needed oils. Greater federal protections remain needed.
“A lot of parents are afraid. One of the reasons why I want to speak out like this and shine a light on it is because this cannot be taken from him,” Suzanne says.
Medicinal Use of Cannabis in Children and Pregnant Women
The increasing medicinal use of cannabis during recent years has largely overlooked children and pregnant women due to litigious and ethical concerns. However, over the last few years medicine has observed increasing numbers of children treated with cannabis for autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD), and pregnant women treated for hyperemesis gravidarum (HG). This review provides an account of major findings discovered through this research. Specifically, cannabis may offer therapeutic advantages to behavioral symptoms of autism spectrum disorder and fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, and to the severe nausea and vomiting in hyperemesis gravidarum. The use of medical cannabis in children and pregnant women should be further discussed and researched in this patient population.
The increasing medicinal use of cannabis during recent years has largely overlooked children and pregnant women due to litigious and ethical concerns. 1 Unlike with medicinal drugs which have clear chemical, pharmacokinetic, and pharmacodynamic properties, one cannot be sure how much cannabis is delivered, by which products, because different plants, and different parts of the plant, exhibit large variability in the amounts of the different active cannabis moieties. The fears of causing harm to the child or unborn baby are well recognized, leading the medical community to be extremely careful before using cannabis.
However, outside the realm of well researched medical practice, pregnant women and parents with special-needs children often feel that their medical needs and those of their children are not met with conventional medicine. This has led an increasing number of parents to take the initiative and offer cannabis to their loved ones. While we, as medical researchers, have not been active participants in this quest, can we simply ignore it and not learn from it once it comes to our attention, often with our own patients?
Based in a developmental clinical pharmacology program in Shamir Hospital, Asaf Harofe, Israel, we have had a long interest in identifying new therapeutic modalities for children with special needs. Over the last few years we have become active observers of the increasing number of children treated with cannabis for autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD), and pregnant women treated for hyperemesis gravidarum (HG). This narrative review provides an account of our main findings from these preliminary observations, supported by searches of the PubMed, Embase ® , and Cochrane databases up to July 2019.
EFFECTIVENESS OF MEDICAL CANNABIS
Medical Cannabidiol in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder
Parents of children with ASD often struggle in an endless search for treatment modalities to alleviate severe symptoms such as aggression, self-harm, restlessness, sleep problems, hyperactivity, anxiety, and other comorbidities. Conventional medical treatment includes various psychotropic medications such as atypical antipsychotics, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), stimulants, and anxiolytics. 2 However, use of these medications for ASD is often not effective and is commonly associated with adverse drug reactions.
Cannabidiol is a cannabis derivative that exhibits no addictive and neuropsychiatric properties. Hence, it is the preferred product for use in children, and, at the initiation of their parents and with support from their physicians, increasing numbers of ASD children are receiving approval for cannabis products to combat autistic symptomatology.
In this observational retrospective study our team reviewed children diagnosed with ASD and receiving their cannabis from Tikun Olam Ltd (Tel Aviv, Israel) (see below). They were administered oral oil-based cannabinoid extract drops, after permission was granted by the Israeli Ministry of Health for administration under the supervision of the children’s pediatricians. For the purpose of this retrospective review, the Shamir Hospital Research ethics committee approved an anonymous retrospective review of the patients’ charts.
The cannabinoid oil solution used was prepared by Tikun Olam Ltd (Tel Aviv, Israel) at a concentration of 30% and at 1/20 ratio of cannabidiol (CBD) and Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). During the first meeting, parents were instructed by a nurse practitioner on how to administer the preparation. Thereafter, a biweekly follow-up telephone interview was conducted, where parents reported on effects and adverse effects of the cannabis given to their children and issues of efficacy and safety were discussed. Typically, therapy started with one or two drops given under the tongue, with the dose increased or decreased based on the child’s reported response.
Fifty-three children at a median age of 11 (range 4–22) years received cannabis and were followed up for changes in ASD-related symptoms. 3 Median treatment duration was 66 days (range 30–588); median daily CBD and THC doses were 90 mg (range 1.5–315) and 6.75 mg (range 0.5–49.5) mg, respectively. The parents reported a notable improvement in self-injury and rage attacks, hyperactivity, sleep problems, anxiety and mood problems, and social communication and reciprocity issues ( Table 1 ).
Reported Improvement in Behavior Problems after Administration of Cannabinoid Oil Solution. 3
|Reported Problem||Number (% of cohort)||Reported Improvement, n (%)|
|Self-injury and rage||34 (64.2%)||23 (67.6%)|
|Hyperactivity||30 (56.6%)||21 (70.0%)|
|Sleep problems||21 (39.6%)||15 (71.4%)|
|Anxiety and mood problems||17 (32.1%)||8 (47.1%)|
|Social communication and reciprocity||15 (28.3%)||13 (86.7%)|
When parents (51 out of 53) were asked to evaluate the overall change in their children’s ASD symptoms, significant improvement was reported in 43.1%, mild to moderate improvement was reported in 31.4%, and no change was reported in 21.6%; in the case of 2 children (3.9%), parents reported a worsening of symptoms. The most common reported adverse effects were somnolence, nausea, and change in appetite.
These results are consistent with other preliminary reports of the effectiveness of cannabis in ASD. 4 , 5 Hence, based on the parents’ reported outcomes, this study suggests that cannabidiol may be effective in improving ASD comorbidities symptoms, with few and transient adverse effects. However, the long-term effects and safety of these preparations should be evaluated in further large-scale, controlled studies.
Use of Cannabis in Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder
Fetal alcohol spectrum disorder has been recently estimated to afflict up to 5% of American children. 6 Most of these children exhibit different degrees of symptomatology of disruptive behaviors. 7 Yet, there has been very little research on the efficacy and safety of pharmacological modalities, limited mostly to stimulants for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), or second-generation atypical antipsychotics for aggression. 8 As shown above, recently, the use of cannabinoids has been described for symptoms related to ASD as well as for other disruptive behaviors, with apparent favorable effects. 4 We therefore performed a retrospective pilot study to analyze the effect of cannabis in children and young adults diagnosed with FASD according to internationally accepted criteria. 9 The study protocol was approved by the Shamir Hospital Research Ethics Committee, and informed consent was given by the parents for use of anonymous data.
All reviewed cases (three children and two young adults) had been diagnosed by us in the Motherisk Israel Program in recent years as suffering from FASD. (Motherisk is a clinical and research program at Yitzhak Shamir Medical Center in Be’er Ya’akov, Israel.) At the time of diagnosis none of the children had received cannabinoids. In all cases, the parents initiated cannabinoid use. The three children received cannabidiol, and the two young adults received THC. Disruptive symptomatology was ranked by the parents’ version of the Nisonger Child Behavior Rating Form (N-CBRF), a visual analog scale (VAS) for disruptive symptoms. 10
Changes in disruptive symptoms before versus after cannabis use were quantified by Student’s t test for paired data. There was a highly statistical decrease in the disruptive behavior score in all five patients, from 18±1.0 prior to cannabis use to 6±2.1 following introduction of cannabis (P=0.0002). 11
These cases suggest that the efficacy and safety of CBD should be tested in well controlled studies. Adding CBD to the very restricted armamentarium of pharmacological solutions for disruptive behavior may be very meaningful, especially because second-generation antipsychotic drugs carry a high risk of adverse central nervous system effects, in addition to serious weight gain and complex metabolic changes.
The Use of Cannabis for Hyperemesis Gravidarum
The most severe form of nausea and vomiting of pregnancy, HG, responds only partially to standard antiemetic medications. Cannabis has been known to possess antiemetic effects, and there are several medicinal cannabinoids used as antiemetics for cancer chemotherapy. Its favorable use for HG has been described in social media, but only a few papers could be found in the medical literature.
In 2006, Westfall et al. reported on cannabis use for HG in 59 women. Of these, 40 women had used cannabis to treat their nausea; of those, 37 considered the cannabis to have been “extremely effective” or “effective” in controlling their symptoms. 12
Hence, we evaluated four Motherisk-counseled cases of HG, following cannabis use. There was a highly significant improvement in symptoms: the validated Pregnancy-Unique Quantification of Emesis (PUQE) 13 score improved from 14.5±1 to 7.5±0.58 (P=0.0004). Cannabis use was associated with a significant increase in PUQE Quality of Life scale, from 2±0.82 to 7±0.82 (P=0.0012). 14
Based on these four cases, cannabis appears to be an effective drug for HG, and should be further researched in controlled studies. Presently, with the legalization of cannabis in the USA and other countries, there are numerous reports on social media of women describing dramatic therapeutic effects. However, this four-case series is the first academic report with objective and validated measures of response.
Nevertheless, Metz and Stickrath’s literature review reveals an ongoing concern regarding the use of cannabis in pregnancy due to modern marijuana’s high Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol content, which crosses the placental barrier and can lead to smaller birth weights, and still and pre-term births. 15
Herein we described the retrospective cannabis experience in three disease entities, which to date are lacking in effective pharmacological modalities. The observations from these studies have reflected dramatic results; however, these preliminary series are limited by small numbers that preclude any definitive therapeutic or safety conclusions. While this review does not offer the methodological rigor needed to approve cannabis use in children and pregnant women, it does provide important clues to inform the medical community regarding the possible design and execution of future definitive studies.
In the case of HG, there are concerns that cannabis may disrupt the normal trajectory of fetal brain development; however, scores of studies following children whose mothers had used cannabis recreationally have failed to show consistent effects. 16
In all three instances described herein, cannabis use was initiated by the parents due to frustration with the lack of initiative by the medical scientific community. Medical cannabis usage in children and pregnant women needs to be thoroughly discussed and researched by the academic community, so that it can be applied appropriately and in the most effective manner in these patient populations.
CBD and Fetal Alcohol Syndrome – February 2022
A 2019 study , published in Scientific Reports, tested whether cannabinoids intensify alcohol-induced congenital disabilities ( 2 ) . The study was the first research to show such a connection in mammals.
Results showed how a single exposure to cannabinoids during early pregnancy could cause growth problems in a developing embryo.
The investigation was performed in mice, which are very accurate models for the development that occurs during early pregnancy, according to Scott Parnell, Ph.D., the study’s senior author and assistant professor of cell biology and physiology in the UNC School of Medicine.
In the study, cannabinoids and cannabinoids with alcohol were given in varying amounts on day eight of the animals’ pregnancy, which is equivalent to the third and fourth weeks of human pregnancy.
This period is when alcohol and cannabinoid exposure is most damaging to a growing embryo, and the time when some women do not realize they are pregnant.
The CBD amounts administered to the mice were equivalent to the accepted therapeutic range for humans. Meanwhile, the THC concentration given was comparable to levels reached by a person smoking marijuana.
In the study, researchers found that the brain and facial developmental effects caused by exposure to cannabinoids CBD and THC were very similar to what is seen in fetal alcohol syndrome.
Parnell and his team of researchers also found that when cannabinoids and alcohol interact, the probability of these congenital disabilities more than doubled.
Parnell says that CBD and THC may be causing defects due to the interactions at the cellular level that disrupt the signaling between cells and molecules that regulate growth and development.
According to Parnell, there is a lack of information on the use of marijuana, its cannabinoids, and products like CBD oil during pregnancy in humans. He also reiterated that there is no safe period to consume alcohol during pregnancy, and the research shows the same is true of marijuana use.
“The interaction between alcohol and cannabinoids we witnessed is very concerning. Previous studies have shown that cannabinoids and alcohol are frequently used together, and for pregnant women, we’re learning that could be very dangerous to a developing child.”
—Eric Fish, Ph.D., author of the study and research associate in the UNC School of Medicine Bowles Center for Alcohol Studies
The Dangers of Using Cannabis During Pregnancy
CBD oil is extracted mainly from hemp plants and is neither psychoactive nor addictive. It has been gaining popularity among people who are searching for a natural remedy for ailments such as stress and pain.
Pregnant women who experience discomforts brought about by their pregnancy, such as pain, nausea, and vomiting, might be inclined to use CBD.
A 2012 study published in the Journal of Experimental Medicine suggests that using CBD can reduce pain and inflammation ( 3 ) .
The researchers also found that subjects were not likely to develop a tolerance to the effects of CBD, eliminating the need to increase their dose continually.
In the British Journal of Pharmacology , a 2011 study shows how CBD may alleviate nausea and vomiting produced by chemotherapy ( 4 ) .
However, given the lack of l ongitudinal research on human subjects on the use of CBD oil during pregnancy, women are advised against using it under any circumstances.
Doctors are also wary about recommending it because of its close association with marijuana and the lack of research on it alone.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), in its 2017 Committee Opinion , states that “Pregnant women or women contemplating pregnancy should be encouraged to discontinue use of marijuana for medicinal purposes in favor of alternative therapy for which there are better pregnancy-specific safety data ( 5 ) .”
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has also warned pregnant women against using any marijuana byproducts, citing the effects of marijuana on fetal development and later neurodevelopmental and behavioral outcomes ( 6 ) .
“I am emphasizing the importance of protecting our Nation from the health risks of marijuana use in adolescence and during pregnancy. Recent increases in access to marijuana and in its potency, along with misperceptions of safety of marijuana endanger our most precious resource, our nation’s youth.”
— Surgeon General VADM Jerome Adams
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), in its Consumer Updates , also strongly advises against the use of CBD, THC, and marijuana in any form when pregnant or while breastfeeding ( 7 ) .
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), smoking or vaping marijuana when pregnant may also be damaging to the fetus ( 8 ) . When expectant mothers smoke or consume marijuana, chemicals go through the placenta and reach the fetus.
Meanwhile, a 2011 study published by the National Institutes of Health demonstrated the long-term behavioral consequences of maternal exposure to cannabinoids during pregnancy and lactation ( 9 ) .
Although the aforementioned study was conducted on animal subjects, and it did not specifically examine the impact of CBD when used alone, the researchers say that their findings are in line with clinical studies reporting hyperactivity and cognitive impairments in humans exposed in utero to cannabis.
What is FAS?
FAS or fetal alcohol syndrome is a congenital medical condition in a child that is a consequence of alcohol exposure during the mother’s pregnancy.
While symptoms of FAS differ from child to child, the condition may also lead to brain damage and growth problems. Unfortunately, the defects caused by fetal alcohol syndrome are not reversible.
According to a 2019 review published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information, alcohol is extremely teratogenic (causes developmental malformations) to a fetus, and its effects are irreversible ( 10 ) .
The authors said that there is no safe time during pregnancy in which any amount of alcohol can be consumed without risk to the fetus, and they also listed several other FAS risk factors:
- Poor nutrition during pregnancy
- Women above 30 years old with a long history of alcohol are more likely to give birth to an infant with FAS
- Having a child with FAS increases the risk for subsequent children
- Women whose genetic susceptibility allows them to metabolize alcohol slowly may be at a higher risk
If a child is suspected of having fetal alcohol syndrome, talk to a doctor immediately. Early diagnosis of the disorder may help to reduce issues, such as learning difficulties and behavioral problems.
Symptoms of FAS
Signs and symptoms of FAS may include any combination of physical defects, cognitive disabilities, and inability to function and cope with daily life.
Physical defects may include:
- Slow physical growth before and after birth
- Small head circumference and brain size
- Vision difficulties or hearing problems
- Deformities of joints , limbs, and fingers
- Distinguishing facial features, such as small eyes, an abnormally thin upper lip, an upturned nose, and unusually smooth skin between the nose and upper lip
Issues with the brain and central nervous system may include:
- Poor judgment skills
- Poor attention and processing information things or situations
- Difficulty with reasoning and problem-solving
- Jitteriness or hyperactivity
Behavioral and social problems may include:
- Trouble adapting to change
- Difficulty planning or working toward a goal
- Problems with behavior and impulse control
- Trouble getting along with others
- Rapid change of mood
Alcohol and Pregnancy
Like Parnell, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the U.S. Surgeon General also believe that alcohol is not safe during pregnancy.
According to these agencies, “There is no known safe amount of alcohol to drink while pregnant. There is also no known safe time during pregnancy or safe type of alcohol.”
In most babies exposed to alcohol in utero, congenital abnormalities do show up as physical abnormalities. Instead, these children exhibit subtle behavioral and learning problems that are often undiagnosed or misdiagnosed as Autism or Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) rather than one of the Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders.
In a study , which was published by Brain Sciences Journal in 2015, the author examined the potential role of endocannabinoids signaling in fetal alcohol spectrum disorder ( 11 ) .
The author also found that outcomes of maternal alcohol use during pregnancy on the behavior of children depend on the amount and frequency of alcohol consumption as well as the timing of exposure.
“When talking about the prenatal effects of alcohol, we usually think exclusively about the dose, the strength, and the timing of alcohol exposure. Without knowing those genetic and nutritional factors that are critically involved with the way a woman metabolizes alcohol, it is not possible to make any generalizations about a “safe” amount of alcohol during pregnancy. What may be” safe” for one woman may be “devastating” for another woman’s unborn baby.”
—Dr. Kenneth Jones – Co-discoverer ‘Fetal Alcohol Syndrome’ in 1973
Results from a review published by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) in 2003, indicated that prenatal alcohol exposure is linked to a characteristic pattern of intellectual disability, particularly in arithmetic and some aspects of attention, such as planning, mental flexibility, and response to feedback ( 12 ) .
According to the researchers, as children exposed to alcohol grow old, deficits in socio-emotional functions become more apparent, particularly in the areas of judgment and interpersonal skills.
These deficits are severe and have been documented most extensively in children with FAS. However, children prenatally exposed to reduced levels of alcohol often exhibit the same problems.
The National Organization on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (NOFAS) says that over four decades of published research has shown alcohol to be toxic to a developing baby, as it can cause brain damage and congenital malformations.
Based on NOFAS Fact Sheets , an estimated 40,000 newborns each year are affected by FAS or have FASD.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) is against drinking during pregnancy, saying that, “Evidence-based research has found that drinking even small amounts of alcohol while pregnant can increase the risk of miscarriage, stillbirth, prematurity, or sudden infant death syndrome.”
Given that FAS causes unrectifiable problems, pregnant women are strongly advised against alcohol consumption.
Medical experts also give similar warnings to pregnant women who may be contemplating using CBD to relieve pregnancy discomforts.
Using CBD and any cannabis products during pregnancy is not recommended due to the given the lack of information on the use of marijuana, its cannabinoids, and CBD oil during pregnancy .