In today’s times, more and more women are opting to use organic medicine such as cannabis to alleviate symptoms and negative feelings associated with pregnancy. According to the statistics gained by new research, the rising use of the cannabis plant is centered in the age of young adults. A journal, JAMA, published that there has been a rise of 4.2% to 7.1% marijuana use from a population sample of pregnant women in the state of California from 2009 to 2016. Data showed that among pregnant women younger than 18, marijuana use in pregnancy has climbed to 21.8% from 12.5% in the past, while 19% from 9.8% among pregnant women aged 18 to 24. Marijuana effects in pregnancy have not been studied through in-depth methods and lack conclusive evidences. So, many women still refer to people whom they know have experience in trying the medicine in the process of pregnancy rather than medical experts.
Although marijuana clearly alleviates most symptoms that are perceived as uncomfortable during pregnancy, the effects of marijuana during pregnancy are still an unknown to scientific inquiry, but doctors are cautioning the public that it can have an effect on the growth of a developing fetus. Although there are no conclusive researches and studies done on the subject, some hypotheses include less than average birth weight and problems in development, according to US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The molecules in the cannabis plant could pass the mother’s system and placenta barrier and enter the bloodstream of the developing fetus.
Research Centers admit that there is no definitive research to answer the relative safeness to garner recommendation of consumption during pregnancy. Professionals from the medical field are typically divided in their opinions but still, a large number from the population shows a rising trend when it comes to marijuana and pregnancy benefits. Medical marijuana has helped many patients. But arguments about using and legalization of marijuana are still going on.
Safety of Marijuana during Pregnancy
A research in 2014 examined a sample size of more than 20,000 birth records from 1997 to 2005 and found that there was a higher chance of a baby acquiring anencephaly, a neural tube defect that damages normal brain development, among mothers who have reported smoking marijuana in pregnancy. In another perspective, a study in the 80’s found no correlation or statistics linking birth defects to cannabis consumption of pregnant mothers. In the end, the medical field has no conclusion when it comes to the direct relation of physical birth defects to marijuana smoking and eating. More research suggests that there are undeniable and immediate positive effects in the short term feeling of the discomfort associated with pregnancy and marijuana use.
The major component found in cannabis is delta 9-tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, has been proven to pass the placental barrier and enter the fetal bloodstream which makes it reasonable to wonder how THC and other cannabinoids can affect a developing embryo or fetus in the mother’s womb. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists does not recommend a compulsive testing of THC in pregnant women or babies. This is due to their concern that such testing could cause women to be jailed or have their baby taken away from them. Federal drug regulators still dictate which medication are deemed safe during pregnancy use, so medical professionals such as doctors and nurses still recommend other alternative and safer medication in place of medical marijuana in pregnancy. There are other available and effective alternatives to alleviating nausea and lessening back pain or post-partum depression. Other research done suggest that there can also be negative traits that can be associated to marijuana effects on pregnancy.
The Effects of Marijuana on the Baby
Some studies done have found out that babies older that 3 years, born from cannabis-using mothers scored a lower average on behavioral and cognitive tests compared to other toddlers. A 10-year research done in Canada has observed that 4-year-old children from mothers who reported a daily intake of marijuana, had lower scores on memory tests, but there was no overall impact on intelligence. And when these same kids turned 10, the data showed that they had a slightly increased potential to acquire hyperactivity, impulsivity and attention disorders. Children from pot-smoking mothers who were aged 6 and above scored lower on reading comprehension. At the age of 14, data showed a lower score in spelling, mathematical analysis and reading examinations than other children whose mothers did not report marijuana use while pregnant.
There aren’t a lot of researches that have involved actual human mothers and babies so scientists have drawn some of their speculations on researching mice and the effects of THC on their development. Studies show that mice who were still on their way to adulthood developed altered connections in their brain cells when subjected to cannabis consumption. This is why scientist and medical professionals think that THC exposure in developing fetuses can leave them with a lasting effect on cognition and memory retention. Since the chemicals in Marijuana are undeniably psychoactive and causes memory and cognition irregularities in the short term, there is a reasonable idea that similar changes can impact a fetus in the process of development.
There is evident that the chemicals and substances present in Marijuana can affect a fetus’ brain neurotransmitters and biochemistry. Some studies also suggest that it has an effect on a developing baby’s oxygen intake overall state such that it can affect heart rate and breathing rate of a baby in the womb. The chemicals can be retained in the body for 30 days after consuming marijuana edibles and pregnancy can be affected as the baby’s exposure in the utero can last for a longer time than the mother anticipated. Other research shows a correlation of cannabis consumption during pregnancy to a negative impact on the development of the structure of an infant’s eyes and vision. .”They’re learning what things look like and how things move and how to respond to the world,” Gossett says. Marijuana’s psychotropic effects, she adds, will change “a child’s ability to interpret the world around him.”