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Int Rev Neurobiol. 2009;85:117-33. doi: 10.1016/S0074-7742(09)85009-5.

Developmental exposure to cannabinoids causes subtle and enduring neurofunctional alterations.

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Department of Physiology and Pharmacology Vittorio Erspamer, Sapienza University of Rome, P.le A. Moro 5, 00185 Rome, Italy.


Cannabis sativa preparations are among the illicit drugs most commonly used by pregnant women in Western countries. Although they are often considered relatively harmless, increasing evidence suggests that developmental exposure to cannabinoids induces subtle neurofunctional alterations in the offspring. In the present review, we summarize human and animal evidence examining the behavioral and neurobiological effects of exposure to cannabinoids during pregnancy and lactation. These studies show that the endocannabinoid system plays a crucial role in the ontogeny of the central nervous system and its activation, during brain development, can induce subtle and long-lasting neurofunctional alterations.

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