Next: It could affect your baby’s attention abilities.
These Women Are Smoking Marijuana While Pregnant, and the Side Effects Could Be Severe
Medical marijuana has significantly lost its stigma in recent years, and recreational marijuana is legal in several states now.
But pregnant women are using marijuana at growing rates. We’ve uncovered the harmful side effects marijuana use while pregnant could have on babies, as well as who is most likely to use marijuana while pregnant (page 5).
Low birth weight
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revealed using synthetic marijuana, such as K2 or spice, could harm your baby’s physical development. These products have extremely high THC equivalents and could affect a baby’s birth weight and size. Pregnant women who used pot were 36% more likely to have anemia, according to Fit Pregnancy. And anemia can lead to premature birth or low birth weight for the baby.
According to NPR, a review of 31 studies on soon-to-be mothers found a link between marijuana use and preterm delivery or stillbirth. Furthermore, “… if the mother used cannabis during pregnancy, the likelihood of her infant needing to be placed in a neonatal ICU was two times higher,” Cara Christ, director of the Arizona Department of Health Services and author of a study published in the journal BMJ, told Fit Pregnancy.
Next: THC can affect your information processing and might do the same for your baby.
It turns out THC can severely affect the central nervous system’s development, as well. THC is the major psychoactive component of marijuana and interferes with your brain’s information-processing abilities, according to LiveScience. And that includes affecting the development of human embryos. THC can disrupt BDNF, an important neural pathway, which could “increase the risk of congenital disorder and can impair cognition as seen in autism,” according to Medical Daily.
ADHD and other learning disabilities
Long-term studies have shown that fetuses exposed to marijuana in utero may have an increased risk of attention deficit disorder or other cognitive effects. They may also be more prone to anxiety and depression, according to The Huffington Post.
“Prenatal cannabis disrupts synapses [nerve connections] critical for higher order executive and cognitive function,” Yasmin Hurd, a neuroscientist at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York, told LiveScience.
Next: Why some pregnant women use marijuana
Weed curbs nausea and pain
Cancer parents who undergo chemotherapy may use medical marijuana to treat resulting nausea. Some pregnant women experiencing morning sickness have begun to do the same. An unnamed mother told Vice how cannabis helped with her hyperemesis gravidarum, a pregnancy complication that results in nausea so severe most women have to be hospitalized.
“I was vomiting so much that I had to go to the emergency women at least once every week for IV rehydration,” she told Vice. “… The only time I ate during those months was the few times I was able to find someone to buy cannabis for me.”
Next: The demographic most likely to use weed while pregnant
18- to 25-year-olds are the biggest culprits
Statistics from the CDC revealed 1 in 25 U.S. women used marijuana while pregnant. And nearly 3.85% of pregnant mothers admitted to using marijuana in a 2014 study. However, women ages 18 to 25 appeared to be the biggest offenders, with 7.47% reporting marijuana use while pregnant.
Next: A concerning factor the studies revealed
The number of women using marijuana while pregnant is likely higher
The researchers factored in underreporting because of the social bias and stigma of using marijuana. Most of the studies relied in part on the women self-reporting their drug use.
“That may mean that patients who do smoke but don’t tell their provider may be misclassified,” Shayna Connor, assistant professor in maternal fetal medicine and ultrasound at Washington University in St. Louis School of Medicine, told NPR.
Next: So, what do doctors recommend?