By Jason Marcuz
Marijuana is a drug that is obtained from the plant cannabis sativa. It is a popular drug with medicinal value but is also widely used for recreational purposes. When used medicinally, cannabis can significantly reduce moderate to severe pain and helps in the management of stress and anxiety.
There is little data available on the effects of cannabis on a fetus. However, the research available is strongly against the use of recreational marijuana during pregnancy.
Cannabis is known by many other names including weed, pot, marijuana or bud. Recreational marijuana causes several effects on the body. These include relaxation, enhanced sensations, and euphoria. However, its use is prohibited in many US states.
The challenges of pregnancy
Pregnancy can sometimes leave a woman so nauseated that they are unable to eat even a favorite snack. Pregnant women sometimes get anxious, worried and apprehensive. Pre-baby jitters are common and many are willing to do anything to feel better.
Using cannabis can help relieve some of the problems that pregnant women face. Marijuana is also now legally available in many states. It is believed to be a safe cure for anxiety and morning sickness. There are midwives who recommend occasional marijuana use to decrease anxiety and reduce morning sickness.
It is estimated that between 2 to 5% of pregnant women use cannabis during pregnancy. This is according to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. However, this number can be as high as 28% among young, urban and socially disadvantaged women.
Effects of cannabis use in pregnancy
Doctors have for a long time linked cannabis use by pregnant women to increased risks of pregnancy-related complications. Marijuana use is also harmful to baby’s health because anything a pregnant woman eats, drinks, inhales or absorbs through the body can directly affect the unborn baby.
Some of the complications that may arise due to marijuana use include
- Still birth
- Premature birth
- Low birth weight
- Small length
- Small head circumference
According to the CDC, the Center for Disease Control, the use of marijuana during pregnancy can be harmful to the baby’s health and may increase the baby’s risk of developmental problems. Even then, more research is needed to better understand how cannabis use may affect an unborn child. Just breathing cannabis smoke is just as bad for a pregnant woman and the unborn child. Babies whose mothers smoked cannabis during pregnancy may experience problems as they get older. They are likely to suffer problems with memory, class performance, impulse control and maintaining attention.
Recent research findings on marijuana use and pregnancy
A new study by a team of researchers led by Dr. Shayna Connor indicates that use of recreational marijuana in moderation during pregnancy may not be as harmful as previously thought. The findings of this research were published in the October 2016 Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology and can be accessed here; http://journals.lww.com/greenjournal/pages/results.aspx?txtkeywords=conner%2c+shayna.
The researchers basically found that there was no statistical correlation between marijuana use and negative birth outcomes. The conclusion was that use of maternal marijuana on its own does not constitute an independent risk factor for adverse neonatal outcomes. Adverse outcomes may be attributed to other confounding factors such as tobacco smoke.