Why it is not recommended to use cannabis as a treatment for morning sickness during pregnancy

Published Apr 26, 2019 09:33 a.m. ET
AP Photo/Matilde Campodonico

Not everyone has to worry about childbearing, and the possible consequences of marijuana use on a developing child, but those who are either planning to conceive, actively trying, or are currently pregnant have likely been hit with a broad range of misrepresented facts on cannabis and pregnancy. Or more specifically, its usefulness in treating morning sickness which is a phenomenon that affects as many as 62% of women at some point during this time. It’s an uncomfortable sensation that keeps many women restricted for months for fear of randomly vomiting while performing typical daily activities. According to the most recent available statistics, there has been a 60% increase in women who choose to use marijuana while pregnant when compared to the numbers from 2002, and this has some researchers worried about the potential dangers that might not yet be apparent to future parents.

Marijuana research that encouraged the consumption of cannabis through pregnancy

There has been marijuana research released from specialists in Jamaica who claimed that birthrate, development, and health are stimulated and encouraged by marijuana use in pregnancy which seems to have first ignited this fierce debate amongst parents who find themselves on either side of the fence. The results of this study took place well over a decade ago and have since been spread by pro medical marijuana supporters everywhere. THC is also a well-established tool for other patients who might be suffering from nausea like things like cancer which solidifies its ability to do the job at hand. So, what’s the problem? Well, unfortunately, while these facts are beneficial for most people who might find themselves battling with extreme fatigue and sickness, none of them touched on the possibility of other adverse consequences like brain development of the fetus in utero while exposed to cannabinoids like THC or CBD.

New marijuana research shows that cannabis use during pregnancy might affect brain development in utero


The purpose of this study, which was released by Science Daily in April 2019, was to research cannabis, and its possible potential for negatively interfering with the development of a fetus in utero. For ethical reasons, this research was conducted on several families of rats who were thoroughly tracked and studied for possible adverse effects. Their hope was not only to figure out how marijuana use might negatively affect a developing child but also if it would be possible to formulate cannabis derived substance that would not mimic those same effects. A dosage of THC was administered to be the equivalent of what a typical daily user would consume per pound of body weight. What they found after scanning the brains of the developing baby rats, was a lack of connections and or synapses occurring between the nerves of the brain’s hippocampus. Once marijuana researchers noticed this glaring difference, they were tasked with understanding why this change was happening at all.  They found that the culprit of the issue was a massive reduction in the NCAM (neural cell adhesion molecules) which are a critical protein used to maintain neural connection and the strength of synapses in the brain. This reaction is believed to be responsible for behavioral issues, as well as memory and learning impairments among children who were exposed to cannabis during their development. Unfortunately, like most marijuana research studies of this nature, the results may or may not directly translate to humans, and the connection cannot be confirmed with absolute certainty without further research on cannabis use during pregnancy.

While there is no denying the many benefits that medical marijuana might have for a pregnant woman, it is important to consider all the potential complications that may arise from using such an under researched element during pregnancy. These studies may not translate directly to humans, and only further investigation can confirm this link for certain, but the fact that marijuana use does adversely affect the development of rats in utero should be at least slightly concerning since the majority of scientific studies conducted on rats in the past for medical research shows an 85% success rate in transference between the two species which is why they are so often used in trials meant for human consumption. The most important thing to remember is that you must weigh the pros and cons of choosing such a treatment, and in some cases, your healthcare provider may agree that the possible risks of other commonly prescribed medications are confirmed and even less worth taking than a natural THC substitute. Every person’s needs whether pregnant or not will slightly different from the next, and there is no one size fits all approach. Just know, that until the decrease in this essential protein is confirmed, understood, and somehow counteracted the possibility of your child experiencing complications later in life from marijuana use is very real, and worth taking note of before making such an important possibly life altering decision.  



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