Smoke Marijuana While Pregnant
Pregnant women need to be very cautious about what they consume during pregnancy, as what they eat and drink directly affects their unborn baby. It’s known that pregnant women should not consume alcohol, cigarettes, and drugs, as these substances can cause birth defects and complications during and after pregnancy, to both the mother and the baby. But the research surrounding the effects marijuana has on pregnancies is limited, which leads to the question: Is it safe or dangerous to smoke marijuana while pregnant?
There have been very few studies conducted which cover marijuana’s effect on pregnancies. And often, the studies that have been done do not isolate the effects of marijuana but include the effects of other substances such as alcohol and hard drugs.
These studies have reported adverse side effects, such as birth defects. But what side effects, if any, are there when only marijuana is consumed?
In the 60’s, Melanie Dreher, Ph.D. lead a study in Jamaica, where she studied 44 infants, 20 of which were exposed to marijuana during pregnancy. The babies were monitored until they reached five-years-old, and there were no adverse side effects reported. Instead, Dreher said the children thrived.
Women also have to watch what they consume if they choose to breastfeed their baby after birth. While a woman is breastfeeding, she is often advised to avoid certain foods and beverages as they could cause her baby to have an upset stomach, birth defects or other adverse reactions.
Dreher’s study looked at the effects marijuana has babies being breastfed by women who smoked marijuana, and again found no adverse side effects.
Another study that analyzed more than 12,000 U.S. birth records in the 1980s found no statistical link between smoking marijuana and any birth defects.
However, a study conducted in 2014 that looked at more than 20,000 U.S. birth records from 1997 through 2005, found that the odds of a baby being born with anencephaly, a birth defect that causes brain malformation, were almost doubled among children born to mothers who reported smoking marijuana while being pregnant.
A very common side effect pregnant women experience is nausea. Some women experience morning sickness, while others may be nauseated for the entire day. And some women are not able to keep any food down. On top of feeling queasy, pregnant women often experience pain in their bodies from carrying around the extra weight.
Cannabis has been shown to be extremely successful in reducing nausea in chemotherapy patients, as well as improving appetite, so many people are wondering if cannabis would have that same effect on pregnant women, while still being safe for the unborn baby. But currently, there is not enough research to make a definitive conclusion.
While Dreher’s study found no negative results, some midwives worry that the compounds found in marijuana such as THC might raise the heart rate of an unborn baby too quickly, or change the processes in the growing brain of the child.
This topic is also difficult to study due to the negative connotation associated with partaking of drugs and alcohol while pregnant. If a pregnant woman is scared that she will get in trouble if she admits to smoking marijuana while pregnant, she might not answer truthfully during a study.