The legalization of cannabis in Canada in October 2018 created an important concern for the health of mothers and babies during pregnancy and beyond. Studies from 2002 – 2014 indicate that one in five pregnant women between the ages of 18 and 25 use cannabis, as the perception is common that it will reduce anxiety and pregnancy-induced nausea.
Although there is a large body of evidence detailing the mode of action of the main component of cannabis (Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)) in adults, little research has focused on understanding how it may impact development of the fetus. This is a critical knowledge gap considering that fetal growth deficits are accompanied with an increased risk of developing chronic metabolic disease later in life.
Dr. Edith Arany, Scientist at Lawson, is studying the implications of cannabis use during pregnancy on the offspring’s pancreas development “in utero” and its effects on glucose control in adulthood.
With the increased epidemic of Type 2 diabetes due to environmental factors, her research in cannabis consumption might bring to light another contributor to this burden.
Dr. Arany’s study is being funded through Lawson’s Internal Research Fund (IRF).
“I’m extremely grateful for this IRF award as it will help me open up a new direction in my research program.” Dr. Arany states. “These IRF grants are crucial to basic scientists to get preliminary data to support future grant applications. Without this support, it is difficult to test novel directions of research and to maintain research programs.”
Lawson’s IRF is designed to provide Lawson scientists the opportunity to obtain start-up funds for new projects with the potential to obtain larger funding, be published in a high-impact journal, or provide a clinical benefit to patients. Funding is provided by the clinical departments of London Health Sciences Centre and St. Joseph’s Health Care London, as well as the hospital foundations (London Health Sciences Foundation and St. Joseph’s Health Care Foundation).