Is it possible to protect your baby from THC during pregnancy?

Published Feb 14, 2020 12:00 p.m. ET
iStock / NataliaDeriabina

Smoking weed while pregnant is a highly debated subject as of late, which has researchers all over the globe looking into the issue. It’s been done for centuries to ease aches, pains, morning sickness, and debilitating medical conditions to make pregnancy a little bit easier on moms, and yet we still have very little for scientific evidence that is either for or against it.

Now that legalization of both recreational and medical cannabis is quickly becoming the norm, rates of cannabis consumption are expected to increase, and it’s absolutely necessary for the health of both mothers and infants to figure this one out. Especially for those who require marijuana for the relief of symptoms or issues that could adversely impact both of their lives.

Marijuana and pregnancy

Despite ample warnings from governing health agencies and doctors, many patients still chose to use cannabis when they are pregnant. The most significant concern at this time is the transfer of THC to the infants developing brain in utero, something that researchers in the past have linked to cognitive and behavioral disorders such as ADHD.

This effect is believed to be caused by THC, which may have the ability to impair the development of essential brain cells, and though there are several studies that refute these results, researchers are looking for ways to make the process safer for mothers and their developing babies. One of the ways that they are currently looking into is an effective concoction of nutrients to create a safety barrier.

Prenatal vitamins have already been thoroughly studied and proven effective for this very task. One of the most widely used is choline, a daily supplement that can help to prevent birth conditions and or defects in infants who develop inside of alcoholic mothers, and though it is provided in pill form, the body actually produces this element on its own. The choline works by activating specific brain receptors called acetylcholine, and some of those same cells are also present where CB1 receptors are found in more substantial quantities.

Does it work for women who are smoking weed while pregnant?


Since 2013 scientists out of Denver Colorado have been studying the effects of prenatal choline on the adverse effects of cannabis exposure in utero, and the results are in. Researchers recorded over 100 pot-smoking mother’s maternal choline levels when they were 16 weeks into their pregnancies and followed up with the infants when they were 1 month and 3 months old.

What they found was that the children whose mothers had higher levels of choline rated higher on behavioral tests, seemingly unaffected by the THC, whereas children born to mothers with low levels of choline graded poorly on behavioral tests, which appear to be rated according to fussiness, crying, and clinginess. Characteristics that most could agree with are pretty normal among infants, including those with mothers who have never smoked pot in their lives.

Is it a good idea?

This absolutely incredible study certainly does give a closer look at what some of our options could be in the future, but unfortunately, this study's results are somewhat inconclusive due to the young ages of the children in question. We know that behavioral and cognitive disorders are often not diagnosed until much later in life because babies are sometimes just fussy little beings for no reason at all, and without a larger study group size, and a longer follow up at later ages, there is no way to tell how conclusive these limited results really are.

Unfortunately, using an aid like choline may be out of the question for now, but that doesn’t mean that there are no options, as such, it’s important to thoroughly discuss them with your medical practitioner. Medical cannabis users might have to choose between smoking weed while pregnant or losing the ability to thrive themselves, and like any other medication taken during pregnancy, there can be risks, but the benefits might just outweigh them. Every situation is different, and though choline might not be a viable option right now, it could be in the near future, and that’s something to get excited about.

Is it a good idea to try smoking weed while pregnant


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