Pot & Pregnancy: Is It Really A Health Hazard?

There has been an increase in the discussion of cannabis, pregnancy and whether it is an acceptable form of medicinal treatment.  Women have been more open about their cannabis use, even during pregnancy, with many claiming that it is a remedy for morning sickness and their altering appetites.

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Nora Volkow, the director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), released a study this past December entitled “The Risks of Marijuana Use During Pregnancy.”  While Volkow is not necessarily anti-cannabis, having advocated for more marijuana research in the past, her study is basically summed up by saying this: using marijuana during pregnancy is risky.  However, with most things marijuana related, there is not much data to go off of.

According to the AP, the numbers show that four percent of women reported using cannabis during their pregnancies in 2014, which is an increase from the 2.4 percent who admitted using in 2012.  Many of these women claim that cannabis has been a helpful remedy for morning sickness. Volkow, a scientist, can validate this claim with “solid evidence” that THC helps control nausea and “preliminary evidence” that cannabis’s constituent parts may treat pain, seizures, autoimmune diseases and other ailments.

On the contrary, there are also many studies that suggest marijuana use is linked to adverse effects in infants, including lighter brain weight, anemia and visits to the infant ICU.  These children may have may have memory, attention and impulse control problems.

These studies, however, do not control for alcohol or tobacco use, meaning many of the infants with negative health effects attributed to cannabis had mothers who may also have been drinking or smoking cigarettes while pregnant.  There are also minimal studies that resulted in babies having no negative effects from their mother using marijuana use.  One Jamaican study done in the 1990's found “no significant differences” in children whose mothers smoked from those who didn’t, except for two circumstances where the marijuana babies performed better.