Cannabis and Pregnancy

Submitted by Pregnancy and Baby Care team on April 13, 2016
The reclassification of cannabis as a medicinal drug raises the question of its potential use to alleviate pregnancy-associated pain.

The last years there is a lot of talk on the news about Cannabis-many states are changing their laws legalizing some form of marijuana use for either recreational or (mostly) medical purposes. What was considered a taboo for many decades now seems to change and as the legislation is shifting becoming more liberal, there are often a lot of misconceptions about what is considered dangerous and what is safe. Since the use of Cannabis is becoming popular, more and more people are wondering about their safety.

New products are offered for sale like edibles and CBD oil products.

It is more than obvious that smoking during pregnancy affects both the mother and her baby's health. Some of the risks that a future mother who smokes is taking is the increase of the heart rate of her baby, and the baby's lungs are also in danger. Additionally, the chances of a possible miscarriage and stillbirth are also increased for a mother that smokes. But the problem is that all these scientific studies concern Tobacco and not Cannabis. Even if Cannabis smokers use both Marijuana and Tobacco together in the same cigarettes, the two substances are very different. For example, cannabis, even if it is smoked, has positive effects for those patients suffering from asthma, and that is a big difference compared to the effects of Tobacco. In any case, smoking tobacco in combination with marijuana in joints has been proven very dangerous for the health of any human being, and that is very well proved and documented in research.

On the other hand, there is a well documented historical use of the plant of cannabis for pregnancy-associated pain. A lot of cultures in India, Africa and Southeast Asia used Cannabis to get a natural pain relief. Now that the medical value of the cannabinoids(chemical substances contained in Cannabis plant) is appreciated, more and more theories support the idea that cannabinoids could play a positive role in a healthy and successful pregnancy. Cannabis can induce a feeling of well-being and relaxation and if you count this fact together with the anti-emetic properties of the plant, then we think that Cannabis could play a very beneficial role to a pregnant woman helping with morning sickness symptoms.

There’s much more scientific evidence of the damage that can be caused by the smoke of tobacco and from drinking alcohol. It is proven that Tobacco and Alcohol are substances that can damage the infant. But there is a shortage of similar scientific research about marijuana.

As a general rule we can say that it is better to avoid any smoke during pregnancy. Combustion produces several carcinogens and tar, which irritate the lungs and can possibly cause bronchitis.

The friends of Cannabis say that can also be consumed in edibles like baked products or in pills and tinctures so there is no need for smoking at all. More over they say that you don’t need to get ‘high’ to experience the health benefits of cannabis. Thanks to science, THC-the psychoactive component of cannabis, is now separated from CBD (cannabidiol). So, no need to worry about getting high. Cannabis has been proven to cause relaxation and ease anxiety. According to the Anxiety & Depression Association of America anxiety affects nearly 40 million Americans. But is that enough to take a risk?

Still marijuana has to prove that is safe to use during pregnancy or breast-feeding. Of course no-one would take the risk of a human health to get damaged by just advertising the medical benefits of Cannabis to pregnant women.

Recently the American Medical Association (AMA) announced a warning stating: “Marijuana use during pregnancy and breastfeeding poses potential harms.”

Compared to similar warnings concerning Tobacco and Alcohol the wording is much more milder .

So any relevant studies on the potential impact of pre-natal cannabis exposure on neurobehavioral and cognitive functioning are ambivalent. For example:

Here is a study that “found the performance of the children wasn’t correlated in any way with the neonatal exposure to cannabis”. Dr. Melanie Dreher, conducted a famous research study on cannabis and pregnancy in Jamaica. Pregnant women and their children were studied for more than ten years. In the Pediatrics journal, Dr. Dreher in 1994 reported that women using cannabis during pregnancy to increase appetite and to treat nausea remained a custom in southeast Jamaica.

On the other hand, another study by Dr. Goldschmidt on the effects of prenatal marijuana exposure on the intelligence test performance of 648 children showed, among others, that Heavy marijuana use during the first trimester was associated with lower verbal reasoning.

It is obvious that a definitive answer remains unclear and unsettled regarding the risks related to the use of marijuana during pregnancy. As long as there is a lot of research missing on the specific matter, it is more than reasonable that AMA prefers to be on the safe side deciding to publicly warn mothers about the potential dangers of Marijuana during pregnancy.

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