Pregnancy and cannabis, do they mix?

Published Oct 5, 2019 09:00 a.m. ET
iStock / Mohammed Haneefa Nizamudeen

Is there a market for cannabis products and pregnant women? Well, the cannabis dispensaries are currently marketing towards pregnant woman who have morning sickness as one of their pregnancy symptoms.

The research

One study from California indicated that the percentage of pregnant women that has screened positive for marijuana use, by self-reporting almost doubled between 2009-2016. More pregnant women reported an increase in cannabis consumption during the first trimester than the second or third trimester.

Are the effects of marijuana harmful during pregnancy?

The effects of cannabis on an unborn fetus are still out for decisions. The results can involve developmental and low-birth-weight and adverse impacts on cognition. Behavior changes can persist into early adulthood, with poor academic achievements becoming an issue. Cognitive disabilities mostly occur in the first trimester of the pregnancy when the organs of the fetus are forming, and pregnant women who are consuming cannabis regularly could have more noticeable results, especially if they continue consuming cannabis in the second trimester.

Many women who are of childbearing age are recreational marijuana users. This population has voiced health concerns for the fetus. Is using cannabis occasionally throughout the pregnancy going to affect the baby negatively? Cannabis is currently the most common recreational drug used among pregnant women. Unfortunately, the THC crosses the placenta and can accumulate in the breast milk that the women eventually feed to their baby.

An increase in pregnant women using cannabis

Today, an increasing number of mothers to be are continuing to use cannabis throughout their pregnancies. Some of the reasons for the continued use of marijuana involve the use of cannabis to control some prior medical conditions, but a few of the moms were using it to avoid the complications of quitting other prescribed drugs.

Health providers educated in cannabis may suggest a mom use cannabis vs. opioids

The method of consumption is an important issue to be discussed with your health provider, as smoking is not the best choice for anyone, and that is especially true for the pregnant mom and her developing baby. Health providers are now suggesting other delivery methods such as a vaporizer for those mums to be, along with the suggestion to cut down on the dose being used. Some health providers indicated that consumables such as oils should be avoided entirely due to the extended time that they stay in the system, and how little we know about the effects of that.

Some health care workers have difficulty staying positive towards cannabis use in pregnancy, but that is mainly due to the lack of research in this area. The legalization of cannabis in Canada has provided a more level field in studies of cannabis use for pregnant women. More studies are being funded, providing needed information to help pregnant women by equipping them to make informed decisions.

In conclusion

So far we know that newborns who are born to women who use cannabis the year prior to pregnancy, and throughout do not exhibit any withdrawal symptoms. However, the issue of long-term effects are still not determined. What is clear is that if you are a regular medical cannabis user, discussing your continued use of cannabis during pregnancy would be a very wise decision. It is never safe to introduce drugs, including cannabis, into the system of a fetus, without the guidance of a cannabis educated health provider.

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