Mothers Who Mix Their Wombs With Their Weed: What's The Risk Of Drug Use During Pregnancy?
There’s no question that the issue of pregnant mothers using marijuana is a hotly contested issue. Most people would view using an illicit substance such as marijuana during pregnancy as a form of pre-natal child abuse- rendering the topic such a controversial affair that few are willing to openly advocate for it.
While emotionally loaded issues such as this are shrouded deep within the veil of misinformed stigma, there’s no question that along with the fear of social ostracism, the prospect for potential legal consequence help in keeping the subject of pregnant women using pot a profoundly unthinkable, out of bounds action. Currently three U.S. states, Tennessee, Alabama and South Carolina have laws established making it a Class C felony, punishable by up to ten years in prison, to deter any expectant mother seeking to self-medicate with cannabis whilst with child- it’s no scarecrow law simply designed to dissuade marijuana use either; women in all three states, (and many more across the U.S.), have been jailed for their decision to self-medicate while pregnant.
The core principle for supporters of the “no pot while pregnant” credo, for those who would celebrate the victory of separating a mother from her child because of her decision to use an unapproved medicine, generally follows the indoctrinated belief that “marijuana is illegal because it is dangerous- therefore such an unsafe substance would obviously impede the good health of a child in womb.” The belief that regular marijuana exposure to a developing embryo leads to cognitive defects and anti-social behavioural issues later in life is advocated by prohibition propaganda front-benchers like Dr. Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, who insists that the best approach concerning the expecting population treating pregnancy symptoms with marijuana be an attitude of, “better safe than sorry,” a sentiment reinforced by scores of doctors and practitioners nationwide.
While financially and politically motivated pedagogues will always be quick to invalidate any theory that pregnant women could potentially safely medicate with cannabis to combat harsh morning sickness symptoms without risking harm to the developing infant, one 1994 study presents a far different a story than the fable most of the nation has been lulled to sleep by: marijuana is safe and should be a preferential treatment to the host of chemically engineered medications that run recklessly rampant through the multitudes of women seeking relief from debilitating bouts of morning sickness.
The study, spearheaded by 30 year cannabis research veteran Dr. Melanie Dreher, focused on two groups of children and mothers in rural Jamaica. The first group consisted of 24 children whose mothers had smoked marijuana heavily during pregnancy and the second consisted of 20 children whose mothers did not use the drug. After conducting a series of tests over a period of five years, the research team’s analysis determined that the children regularly exposed to cannabis in utero showed no neurobehavioral differences to the children who had not been exposed. The results further reported that the children whose mothers had consumed cannabis on a regular basis had better scores on autonomic stability, quality of alertness, temperament, and self-regulation. To paraphrase: the feti exposed to the religious use of marijuana by their Jamaican mothers created children that were, in this case, more advanced than the progenies of the parents who had abstained from any and all marijuana use.
Despite these promising and underreported benefits that cannabis can lend to pregnant mothers in pain as well as their offspring, the hard-line naysayers and D.A.R.E. educated elite continue to harangue the greater population with the potential for harm that marijuana presents to the unborn.
While there are indeed studies that have indicated marijuana use during maternity may be a cause for premature birth as well as lower birth weights, none of these studies allow for other environmental factors, including maternal nutrition, exposure to nurture or neglect, or the use of other substances like tobacco and alcohol by the in term mothers, resulting in an surplus of superfluous warnings by medical professionals against marijuana that has steered countless women towards a misdirected sense of safety. The failure of the aforementioned factors being included in such testing produces obtuse results that are widely contested- so the information gets translated to the caution that we’d all better be safe than sorry.
Considering the extent to which cannabis is vilified, both by legal enforcement and by the delusory conclusions of inaccurate testing, most would likely assume that a fully legal, prenatal medication has undergone more rigorous testing than that of any normal medication- unquestioningly accepting a prescribed medication based on the assumption that it has withstood the fire of intense scruple and is safe for both the mother and fetus.
The above assertation could not be farther from the truth.
Zofran , a 5-HT3 receptor antagonist manufactured by GlaxoSmithKline, is a drug that works by interacting serotonin levels in the brain. The pharmacological agent was originally approved in 1991 to treat nausea and vomiting in cancer patients. Zofran is considered the gold standard for this purpose.
Zofran, a medication designed for the terminally ill, is also the nation’s #1 most prescribed medication for the treatment of morning sickness.
While RX websites are quick to point out that “Zofran is not expected to harm an unborn baby,” a study by Dr. Gideon Koren, a long-time affiliate of The Motherisk Program, The Hospital for Sick Children and the University of Toronto, Canada, recently published some startling findings that highlight the risk of pregnant women taking Zofran and conflicting studies that indicate a severe risk to the fetus.
The study of 900,000 Danish women in the August 2013 review found a “2-fold increased risk of cardiac malformations with ondansetron (Zofran), leading to an overall 30 percent increased risk of major congenital malformations.”
Women who used the drug during pregnancy gave birth to babies with birth defects, including cleft palates and lips, club feet, heart defects and craniosynostosis – a condition in which the skull is abnormally shaped and may not have enough space for the brain. This can cause vision problems, eating issues and mental impairment.
Want to know the real kicker? Only 8 medications are currently FDA approved. Zofran is not one of those drugs- yet for some reason the toxic drug keeps making its way into the hands of suffering mothers by doctors who have found their moral high-ground in being safe rather than sorry and determined to prescribe a substance that is making failed guinea-pig experiments out of Americas children rather than advising the use of a plant whose worst, widely debated side-effect is causing newborns to be a little skinny.
They do say that during times of war it is always the innocent that lose their life before the soldier and that is exactly what is happening presently. This war on drugs has created such a blind ignorance that people cannot see their children being robbed of their health by the medicine that has been branded as the safe option.
There are many mothers, yet far more children out there who would contest the validity of the “safe option.”
In the words of the good Dr. Koren, “There is no reason for women to be exposed to a drug of unproven maternal and fetal safety when there are safer options currently available.”
Gotta run for now,
James (check out Through The Eyes Of A Stoner, a series on Cannabis.net)
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