These days, weed (also widely known as marijuana or cannabis) is maybe the most frequently used drug. Moreover, weed is the most commonly used drug during pregnancy.
In particular, according to American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), a variety of studies discovered a 2 – 5% prevalence of marijuana use during pregnancy. In fact, the prevalence rises up to 15 – 28% among young, socioeconomically disadvantaged women, as well as those who live in urban areas. 34 – 60% of marijuana users do not give up smoking weed during pregnancy, thinking that it is safer and cheaper to use compared to tobacco.
Is that so? Unfortunately, there is no definitive answer to the question of weed’s harm during pregnancy due to the low number of studies. The reason for lack of research when compared to tobacco and alcohol is because weed isn’t as widely legalized as those two substances. Statistical data for a comparable level of research simply doesn’t exist at the moment.
However, as long as the conducted studies go, weed is more harmful than safe.
What are the harmful effects of weed?
When it comes to pregnancy, the primary concern is the impact of weed smoking on the development of the fetus. A number of studies demonstrated a number of negative effects of weed on the fetus.
Lower birth weight
A number of studies, including a 2012 study published in Pediatric Research found out that among pregnant women in Brisbane, Australia, babies born to women who smoke weed during pregnancy were around 375 grams lighter than babies born to non-smoking women. Even after taking out other factors such as socioeconomic status, alcohol or cigarette use, researchers found that the impact of smoking weed during pregnancy was statistically significant.
Higher risk of preterm birth
The same study found that higher risk of preterm birth was among the conditions that weed-smoking women experienced. In its turn, preterm birth might affect the brain development of the baby. This may result in a higher-pitched cry, trembling, or unexpected responses to visual stimuli. The number of possible medical conditions goes far beyond this short list.
Possible effects on cognitive function of the baby
A 2015 study published in American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology references a good amount of research on the impact of marijuana on growing fetuses. Some studies found that use of marijuana during pregnancy cause baby’s neurodevelopment issues like hyperactivity and poor cognitive function.
In addition, the study discovered that marijuana is able to freely cross the placenta. It can be even found later in breast milk. Though the effects of marijuana in this regard are not clear, researchers tend to believe that it could result in the mentioned issues with neurological development, as well as pose higher risk of stillbirth.
What are the positive effects of weed?
Marijuana also has some positive effects, which are generally psychophysiological. In some cases, those benefits might make use of weed justified during pregnancy.
Weed can be a good anxiety killer. Too much stress during pregnancy can negatively affect both the mother and the baby. Smoking weed might be able to help stressed mothers to deal with the anxiety.
Weed helps deal with morning sickness and loss of appetite. Some women go the extreme of smoking weed to keep their appetite up, which in its turn helps with providing the fetus with nutrients. Weed thus might be able to aid you if traditional medicines don’t work.
Weed is a natural painkiller. A lot of women experience intense sciatic nerve pain during pregnancy. Weed may be helpful if you are not fond of taking opiates or painkillers.
On the other hand, medical usage of marijuana during pregnancy is extremely difficult because, according to the ACOG study we mentioned earlier, no standard dosages, formulations, delivery systems for medical usage of marijuana have been developed. The US Food and Drug Administration doesn’t have any recommendations in terms of marijuana usage during pregnancy. The bottom line is that no medical professional will be able to provide you with recommendations for safe and beneficial use of marijuana during pregnancy.
Should you be smoking weed while pregnant?
The most important question is: is smoking weed while pregnant advisable? Unfortunately, there still isn’t any definitive answer to that question due to a number of reasons. We already mentioned some of them, but let’s do a quick recap.
Firstly, marijuana is legalized in only a small number of states. This in its turn means that there is simply not enough statistical data on the effects of marijuana. However, as the time goes, we will definitely get more answers: older studies (as an example, 90s study by Dr. Melanie Dreher) didn’t discover any negative impact of marijuana smoking during pregnancy, while more recent studies, like the ones we mentioned above, discover statistically significant evidence for the harm of smoking marijuana. If this “trend” goes on, in the near future, there probably will be no doubt about the harmfulness of marijuana for the fetus.
When it comes to medical use of marijuana, there is no safe way to go as there are no developed standards or recommendations for it. This is mostly because of the illegality of marijuana in the majority of states: they simply do not need and cannot in the first place develop any standards for weed smoking.
On one hand, we have indecisive research and evidence, and on the other, we have the well-known benefits of smoking weed while pregnant. So should you smoke marijuana during pregnancy after all?
When it comes to doctors, they generally do not recommend smoking weed during pregnancy. With no evidence, they are not able to confidently say whether or not weed will be harmful to your baby.
You might think that if there is no evidence, then there is nothing to worry about. But that’s isn’t how the things go: the more time passes, the more studies begin to discover significant correlations between weed usage during pregnancy and baby’s development anomalies.
As far as our advice goes, you should not take the risk and smoke weed during pregnancy. You cannot predict the complications that may arise. If you are smoking weed regularly, you should consult a medical professional to find ways of quitting smoking weed for at least the period of pregnancy.