Male looking out

Autism-linked gene undergoes changes in sperm after drug use

Healthy lifestyle changes are always strongly encouraged when one is about to embark on a fertility journey, and research is highlighting the importance now more than ever.

Over the past decades, there has been a huge number of studies showing just how important it is to quit smoking, limit alcohol consumption, and improve the overall health of the patients who are looking at trying to start a family. The same goes for drug use.

A recent study from Duke University in North Carolina has revealed that a specific gene associated with autism appears to undergo significant changes in the sperm of men who use cannabis. The change occurs through a process known as DNA methylation and there’s a strong possibility that these changes can be passed onto the offspring of the men.

This is the first study that demonstrates a link between the changes of a gene that has previously been implicated in autism, and the association with male cannabis use.

The gene affected is not only involved with autism, but it also is involved with neurological conditions such as schizophrenia and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Although the sample size was relatively small and the researchers couldn’t find a definitive link between the use of marijuana and autism, the possible connection and the evidence showing the impact the drug has on gene expression definitely warrants further investigation, especially given there is an increasing push locally to legalise the use of the drug.