The Effects Of Marijuana During Pregnancy

marijuana and pregnancy

Marijuana has a lot of powerful effects on the human psyche. Despite its commonplace usage, marijuana, in high doses, can demonstrate extremely intoxicating effects. If you are pregnant, or thinking about getting pregnant, this article provides an overview of what we know about marijuana and pregnancy.

How Common Is Marijuana Use During Pregnancy?

Currently, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) has concluded that two to five percent of American women use marijuana during pregnancy. These numbers change among different demographics – young, urban, disadvantaged, disabled, etc. Up to 28 percent of certain demographics of women smoke marijuana during pregnancy.

Since marijuana use is illegal in many states, these statistics are likely to be slightly inaccurate. The current rates of marijuana use during pregnancy are likely quite a bit higher.

Is Marijuana Safe To Use During Pregnancy

There’s a lot of different research being conducted about the effects of marijuana during pregnancy. Not a lot of it indicates a healthier relationship between the developing fetus and a pot smoking parent.

There are several active ingredients in marijuana. All of these active ingredients travel through the mother’s bloodstream and through the uterus, into the developing fetus. These compounds include

  • THC – Tetrahydrocannabinol. This is the most understood and well-researched active compound of marijuana. It’s responsible for most of what users consider to be a ‘high,’ though it’s not the sole contributor.
  • CBD – Cannabidiol. This is the second most prevalent active compound in marijuana. It’s more responsible for the relaxation and stress reduction that people feel when they consume marijuana.

It’s difficult to assess the effects of marijuana on the developing fetus. Regulating blood pressure and other vital statistics isn’t as simple as it is in grown adults. The difficult thing to assess is the impact that drugs are having on the developmental process of the fetus brain. Most of the evaluations are done after childbirth and during the early months of childhood.

Prior research indicates that THC could result in harm to the embryo even if marijuana is used in the early stages of pregnancy

Sudhansu K. Dey, Ph.D.,  Huirong Xie and Xiaofei Sun, state:

“The findings or our investigation raise concerns that exposure to cannabis products may adversely affect early embryo development that is then perpetuated later in pregnancy. Also, given that endocannabinoid signaling plays a key role in the central nervous system, it would be interesting in future studies to examine whether affected cell migration-related genes in early embryos also participate in neuronal cell migration during brain development.”

You can read the whole article here: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/250195.php

It’s very important that pregnant users of marijuana take time to learn about and understand the effects marijuana can have on a developing fetus.

However, there have been studies linking the following detriments to the use of marijuana during pregnancy.

  • Low birth weight
  • Premature birth
  • Small head circumference
  • Stillbirth
  • Healthy Placenta formation can  impeded by Marijuana thus harming the essential supply of nutrients to the fetus.
  • Can increase risk of preclampsia.   (Preclampsia can be dangerous for mother and child during pregnancy due to high blood pressure.)

There is some evidence, however, that women who use marijuana during pregnancy are more likely to experience placental complications21 and give birth to babies with lower birth weight temporary poor autonomic control, particularly in terms of regulating their alertness; and a “hole in the heart”(ventricular septal defect).  Source

Smoking marijuana doesn’t guarantee a defective birth, but the chances are increased from non-smokers.

Is It Wrong To Use Marijuana During Pregnancy?

There are several factors to consider when evaluating whether or not marijuana use is a moral issue. Since laws and stigma vary from state-to-state, the justice system cannot be the sole method by which one judges whether or not using marijuana while pregnant is wrong. One must take into account many different aspects of the issue.

Consider the following:

  • Financial stability. If money is tight for you, should you be spending it on weed, or saving it for you new baby?
  • Politics and Legality. Families tend to be wary of pot smoking because of the way it portrays the city. Some weed smokers perpetuate stereotypes of laziness, lack of motivation, and slow thinking. Marijuana being illegal doesn’t help the circumstances. These are not attractive labels to attach to or even consider labeling a newborn baby or a pregnant mother with.

The general consensus is that marijuana use should be abstained for during pregnancy for the sake of your fetus and your newborn baby.

Why Are you Smoking Weed During Pregnancy?

There are many reasons that people might use marijuana during pregnancy.

  • You may find that smoking marijuana eases some of the side effects of pregnancy, such as morning sickness or difficulty eating.
  • You may be aware of marijuana’s dangers, but simply not be aware that the damage will transfer to their fetus.

Think about why you are smoking while you are pregnant.  It’s important for you to know why you smoke.  It will help you build a plan to quit.

Effects of Marijuana Use on Children After Birth

Also intriguing is the potential long-term effects that a child may have to deal with after being born to a mother who smoked marijuana during her pregnancy. Some notable effects that have been linked to its use:

 

Research suggests that, at ages three to four years, children of mothers who used marijuana while pregnant have poorer verbal, memory and reasoning ability; poorer motor skills and shorter length of play; and are more likely to be fearful, impulsive, inattentive, hyperactive and delinquent6. These difficulties appear to persist into adolescence, when they may be accompanied by increased depression and anxiety, along with reading and spelling problems and general underachievement at school6. Such deficits may also continue into early adulthood, along with an increased risk for initiation of tobacco and marijuana use. Source.

Medical Marijuana Use During Pregnancy

In recent years, marijuana has made its efficacy as a medical substance widely known. Weed as medicine yet to be evaluated for pregnant mothers, according to the ACOG.

They state that since there are no standard doses, formulations, or delivery systems that cater towards pregnant women, the use of medical marijuana should be avoided during pregnancy. Other medical alternatives can be sought for any outstanding health issues that the pregnant patient may have.

Is it OK to smoke weed while breastfeeding?

It’s not recommended to use marijuana during the breastfeeding phase. The active compounds in marijuana can still seep through the breast milk and into your baby. THC is highly fat-soluble, so it will be readily absorbed after being consumed.

One study suggests that moderate amounts of THC find their way into breast milk when a nursing mother uses marijuana.105 Some evidence shows that exposure to THC through breast milk in the first month of life could result in decreased motor development at 1 year of age.106 There have been no studies to determine if exposure to THC during nursing is linked to effects later in the child’s life. With regular use, THC can accumulate in human breast milk to high concentrations.98 Because a baby’s brain is still forming, THC consumed in breast milk could affect brain development. Given all these uncertainties, nursing mothers are discouraged from using marijuana.95,107 New mothers using medical marijuana should be vigilant about coordinating care between the doctor recommending their marijuana use and the pediatrician caring for their baby. Source

Aside from that, heavy marijuana use can impair motor and cognitive function. If you want to be a fully functional parent, you need to be attentive, observant, and aware at all times.

Frequently Asked Questions

“I smoked weed a couple times before I found out I was pregnant. Will my baby be okay?”

While there will be an increase in your fetus’s exposure to carbon monoxide, the chances of your baby receiving permanent damage are slim.

“My friend smoked marijuana during pregnancy and her baby seems fine. Are these studies legitimate?”

The studies are legitimate, but they do not provide conclusive evidence that marijuana directly causes these defects. There are other variables involved – however, they suggest a highly plausible link between marijuana use and the described defects.

 

 

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