Ep 55: Fetal Vulnerability to Cannabis and Alcohol with Dr. Scott Parnell and Connor Wander


Marijuana and other cannabis products are becoming increasingly available across the country, and while compounds like CBD have been shown to be safe and even helpful in adults, the side effects of cannabis products are relatively unknown when it comes to the developing fetus.

We’ve known that alcohol causes birth defects for over 40 years, causing a condition called Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) and the greater spectrum of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD).   But alcohol isn’t the only commonly used substance to cause birth defects.   Dr. Parnell’s lab and others shows that CBD and THC, the two most well-studied compounds in marijuana can also be harmful to the developing brain.  His research points to a possible fetal cannabis syndrome that could have very similar effects to alcohol.  It seems that both alcohol and mariujana could cause birth defects by hitting the developing brain at the same stage- but listen in for the details!

Youtube link


Embryonic development - the neural tube
Neurulation in embryonic development

Here’s the main publication we discussed, which explores how cannabis can make alcohol a more powerful teratogen (embryo/fetal develpmental hazard that can lead to birth defects).

Dr. Scott Parnell – UNC Chapel Hill

UNC broke this story late last year here.

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