Student shares research on prenatal exposure to cannabis

On Sept. 28, senior Kate Rich gave a presentation about her medical internship this past summer.

“As a health science major, it is a requirement to do a medical internship,” said Rich. “So I interned at the Orange County Health Department for five weeks over the summer.”

Rich started off her presentation with background information on the health department. She informed the audience that most of the residents there were native Spanish speakers and many of them did not speak English.

Rich, who aspires to attend Physician Assistant School, shared her experience on how the language barrier made her realize how important her Spanish minor was when it came to the medical field.

Later that night, she gave an overview of her shadowing experience, and presented her literature review on the effects of pre-natal exposer to non-smoked cannabis.

“(It is) not as benign as you would think,” said Rich.

During this time, Rich filled the audience with information on just exactly how THC affects human development.

“I hope that I am able to get all of the information out,” said Rich at the beginning of the presentation.

Rich explained the uses of our Cannabinoid Receptor 1, which can be activated by a chemical in marijuana, and walked the audience through how THC affects cognitive and social health, birth weight, growth and more.

In the end, she concluded that a person should not ingest cannabis, smoked or not, while said person is pregnant or breastfeeding because it will harm the fetus’ psychological functioning and physical development.

Rich’s findings amazed and inspired the crowd. Senior Connor Pruitt had come to show his support but left in admiration of his fellow student.

“I know that she always works hard, but to see her final presentation really put it together in my mind how hard she works,” Pruitt said.

Not all were as joyful as Pruitt after the presentation. Emma Graham, CCE student and Friends Center Intern, shared concern and fear with the group during the Q and A session.

“I obviously felt that it was not good, but this solidified my understanding of it,” Graham said.

Curiosity and the urge to learn brought Graham to Rich’s presentation.

“I did have a friend who was a cannabis user and who just had a baby, so I was kind of curious to hear what the medical side of the result was,” said Graham.  “I feel a lot more knowledgeable I really didn’t know any consequence in the terms of using cannabis and having a baby.”

Despite her worries, Graham was glad that she went and hopes that more students will go in the future.

“I think it is really important to support students when they are presenting their theses,” said Graham.

Others felt that they had learned a lot from Rich’s presentation. Pruitt left the presentation with a new appreciation for science.

“It’s not just a bunch of big words,” said Pruitt. “That knowledge that they work so hard for really helps a lot of people.