Why are more pregnant women using marijuana?
More and more women are turning to marijuana to help them overcome their morning sickness problems whilst pregnant. This trend is starting to raise concerns in the medical world, because some doctors warn that marijuana use during pregnancy could cause low birth weight and premature birth. They are also concern that it could cause behavioral problems in young kids.
In countries like Jamaica and India, smoking marijuana to relieve nausea is not uncommon at all and it had been part of the culture forever. This is one of the medical issues that could sprout a lot of controversy. There is still a great lack of study done on what marijuana does on an unborn fetus and it is not as clear cut to state that it is harmful or not.
Since the active ingredient in marijuana, THC has an effect on many part of the body when consumed, it is reasonable to conclude that it might have an effect on the unborn baby as it passes through the placenta as well.
Researches are not conclusively sure what happens to the unborn baby. What makes it even more difficult for accurate results is that questionnaires are often used in research, and apart from the fact that women might also smoke tobacco during pregnancy that has a different effect on the fetus; they also might not be completely honest in answering truthfully that they are using marijuana during pregnancy. That makes it difficult to conclude if any harm observed in the baby after birth, was caused by smoking cigarettes or marijuana.
Studies until now in the US show no clear link between marijuana smoking and birth defects, in fact, generally health care practitioners agree that marijuana smoking during pregnancy does not directly cause physical birth defects. Recent studies do find though, that babies born to mothers smoking marijuana daily, or once per week, were twice as likely to end up in neonatal intensive care. Babies are also born with smaller heads and hearts, but those relate also to women smoking cigarettes. So there is absolutely no conclusive evidence that cannabis causes harm.
Few studies are done over the long term. Some studies showed that at age 3, children born to pot-smoking moms, score slightly lower on behavioral and cognitive tests in comparison to other babies. A 10 year old Canadian study showed that children at age 4 scored slightly lower on memory tests, but no impact on intelligent tests. In age 10 there was a slight increase in hyperactivity and impulsivity.
Studies done on mice found that the effect of THC on developing mice had altered connections between cells in the brain. They believe this could explain why exposure of THC before birth could have an effect on the brain of children with lasting memory and cognitive changes. But as said before, more studies have to be done to be conclusive. Yet this doesn’t stop the prohibition camp to tout these “findings” as truth.
Jamaican Study claims No Harm in Smoking Weed when Pregnant
Pregnant women in Jamaica have always been using marijuana to relieve nausea. They also use it to relieve depression and stress. Some smoke and some use it in the form of a tea or a tonic. In 1960, Melanie Dreher was appointed to do an ethnographic study on using marijuana during pregnancy and the consequence thereafter
24 Jamaican infants exposed to marijuana prenatally and 20 infants not exposed were used in the study. Her field studies can be seen in the book – Women and Cannabis: Medicine, Science and Sociology.
At the time of the study, most North American studies showed marijuana can cause birth effects and developmental problems. They did not isolate marijuana use; it was linked with tobacco, alcohol, meth and heroin.
Dreher used the Brazelton scale (highly recognized neonatal behavioral assessment) to evaluate behavior. The profile identified strength, possible vulnerabilities and adaptive responses of the babies. The result showed no negative impact on the infants, in fact, they excelled.
Her conclusion was not openly and warm heartedly accepted. In fact, her sponsor at that time, The National Institute of Drug Abuse, did not want to continue supporting her. I wonder why that is?
What does all this mean for the pregnant woman?
No clinical tests on humans have been done to see what the effect of smoking marijuana during pregnancy is on the unborn fetus. Other studies are not conclusive enough to say it is harmful or not. There are many testimonies of moms saying that their babies showed no negative response after birth and even when they are older they excelled in school.
This is a decision that should be done by pregnant women weighing all the odds. There might be the risk that she could go into early labor or the baby is very small. It might be that the effect of THC on the developing brain could have some negative effects later. If you are not 100 % sure and you would like to use alternative treatments, look for something safer. The decision is ultimately up to you. The point here is that no one really knows and until we completely de-schedule cannabis, the appropriate testing cannot be done.
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