Synthetic cannabinoids and potential reproductive consequences

Life Sci. 2014 Feb 27;97(1):72-7. doi: 10.1016/j.lfs.2013.06.018. Epub 2013 Jul 1.


Increases in emergency room visits due to abuse of designer drugs, popularly known by the street names "K2" and "Spice," are a cause for social, judicial, and clinical concerns. The psychoactive components in these herbal drugs mainly consist of different synthetic cannabinoids, and users of these street drugs are primarily within the age group of 12 to 20years old. The abusive use of synthetic cannabinoids results in anxiety, nausea, vomiting, tachycardia, elevated blood pressure, tremors, seizures, hallucinations, and paranoid behavior, but the effects of maternal use of synthetic cannabinoids during pregnancy are ambiguous due to limited studies in humans and a relative short history of the drugs. In this review, we discuss the known and potential adverse effects of synthetic cannabinoids on human pregnancy using knowledge gathered from studies in mice and limited studies in humans. In mice, multiple sites and stages of pregnancy are potential targets of synthetic cannabinoids, including preimplantation embryo development, oviductal embryo transport, implantation, placentation, and parturition. It is anticipated that maternal use of synthetic cannabinoids would result in severely compromised female fertility and pregnancy outcome.

Keywords: Cannabinoids; Ectopic pregnancy; Female reproduction; Pregnancy; Synthetic cannabinoids.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Animals
  • Cannabinoids / administration & dosage
  • Cannabinoids / adverse effects*
  • Child
  • Designer Drugs / administration & dosage
  • Designer Drugs / adverse effects*
  • Emergency Service, Hospital / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Illicit Drugs / adverse effects*
  • Mice
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications / epidemiology
  • Pregnancy Outcome
  • Reproduction / drug effects
  • Substance-Related Disorders / epidemiology
  • Young Adult


  • Cannabinoids
  • Designer Drugs
  • Illicit Drugs