Using marijuana while pregnant has been linked to psychotic-like behaviors in children. The months spent social distancing at home may be taking a toll on our bodies. Greenland saw record ice loss in 2019.
Don’t get high while pregnant. Using marijuana during pregnancy may increase psychotic-like behaviors in children, according to a new study published in JAMA Psychiatry.
Researchers analyzed data on 11,489 children who were followed as part of the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development (ABCD) study, which says it’s the “largest long-term study of brain development and child health in the United States.” The children’s cognitive and behavior patterns were evaluated in middle childhood, around age 9.
The analysis found that children whose mothers had used marijuana during pregnancy were more likely to have psychotic-like behaviors and more attention, social and sleep problems, as well as weaker cognitive abilities. If the woman continued to use after she discovered she was pregnant, the negative effects were more pronounced.
The vast majority of marijuana use was during the first three months of pregnancy and was predominantly recreational rather than medical. The developing brain of a fetus is very susceptible to damage during the first trimester. Not only does THC—the compound in marijuana that makes you high—enter the fetal brain from the mother’s bloodstream, but once there it can impact the baby’s developing brain. The use of marijuana during pregnancy is also linked to low birth weight, impulsivity, hyperactivity, attention issues and other cognitive and behavioral issue in children, and it may also be linked to autism.
Sources: “Using weed during pregnancy linked to psychotic-like behaviors in children, study finds,” CNN, Sept. 23, 2020; “Associations Between Prenatal Cannabis Exposure and Childhood Outcomes,” JAMA Psychiatry
The cost of confinement. While social distancing is the best way to avoid catching COVID-19, months spent confined at home can take a toll on the human body. Being homebound for so long contorts the body, weakens the heart and lungs, and even impairs brain function.
For many of us, being stuck at home has meant forgoing our usual means of exercise—whether we normally go to a gym, bike ride, run, attend a yoga class, etc. It can take months to build muscle, but just one week of inactivity can undo all your hard-won progress. And losing muscle means losing strength. Lack of exercise can also cause your heart and lungs to grow weaker from disuse, as well as allowing neurotoxins to build up, potentially killing brain cells.
Being home all day has also led many of us to eat excessively, snacking throughout the day on the highly processed nonperishables we stockpiled at the beginning of the pandemic. Though some weight gain during stressful times is normal—and 2020 has certainly been stressful—too much can lead to obesity, diabetes and other issues.
Source: “This is what happens to your body over months in isolation,” CNN, Sept. 26, 2020
Greenland saw record ice loss last year. Greenland lost 532 billion tons of ice in 2019—shedding the most mass from its ice sheet since at least 1948. The previous record was 464 billion tons lost in 2012.
Researchers said the record melt will likely raise average global sea level by 1.5 millimeters. Using a hypothetical comparison, all the water combined would cover the entire state of California in more than 4 feet of water, according to a study published in the journal Communications Earth & Environment.
Researchers said Greenland’s ice melt is of particular concern since the ancient ice sheet holds enough water to raise sea levels by at least 20 feet if it were to melt away entirely.
Sources: “Greenland’s ice sheet saw record mass loss in 2019, study finds,” Reuters, Aug. 20, 2020; “Study: 2019 Sees Record Loss of Greenland Ice,” Climate.NASA.gov, Aug. 20, 2020