Cannabis during Pregnancy? Is this really harmful or not?

Is smoking Cannabis during pregnancy detrimental to your baby and you? No one can seem to answer this question definitively.

Is smoking Cannabis during pregnancy detrimental to your baby and you? No one can seem to answer this question definitively.

We all pretty much agree that during pregnancy what Mama takes in, baby takes in. Right? Something that no one can seem to agree on though, is the effect that cannabis has on a foetus if used during pregnancy.

As someone who has never used Cannabis I have a relatively biased view, it has always been a negative thing to me – done by teenagers acting out, or maybe the odd person for some medicinal use that could be gained by using ‘proper’ drugs from the doctor. This seems to be such a common perception too, especially in the UK where Cannabis is not legal, and let’s be frank, we’re English – if it’s illegal, in my experience people tend to believe it must be wrong. But this isn’t the same attitude that is shared across the world, in fact in a lot of countries Cannabis is legal, if not for just daily use, for medicinal uses. So what are the world attitudes toward Cannabis and pregnancy? What does the research really say?

Anyone who has ever suffered with morning sickness will really want to listen up here and ask themselves a hard question: If you thought that cannabis would help you with morning sickness, and I am talking chronic, potentially life threatening morning sickness, would you use it? This is an extract from an article published by Dr. Wei-Ni Lin Curry, who documented her own therapeutic cannabis use during her pregnancy:

“Within two weeks of my daughter’s conception, I became desperately nauseated and vomited throughout the day and night. … I vomited bile of every shade, and soon began retching up blood. … I felt so helpless and distraught that I went to the abortion clinic twice, but both times I left without going through the with procedure. … Finally I decide to try medical cannabis. … Just one to two little puffs at night, and if I needed in the morning, resulted in an entire day of wellness. I went from not eating, not drinking, not functioning, and continually vomiting and bleeding from two orifices to being completely cured. … Not only did the cannabis save my [life] during the duration of my hyperemesis, it saved the life of the child within my womb.”

So, I’ll ask you again, would you use it?

Further to this potential effect of Cannabis, a study conducted by Dr Melanie Dreher, which hit mainstream media back in 2012, compared the one month old babies of women who used Cannabis heavily to women who didn’t use Cannabis at all, and the results were quite shocking:

  • The heavily exposed neonates were more socially responsive and were more autonomically stable at 30 days than their matched counterparts.
  • quality of their alertness was higher;
  • their motor and autonomic systems were more robust;
  • they were less irritable;
  • they were less likely to demonstrate any imbalance of tone;
  • they needed less examiner facilitation to become organized;
  • they had better self-regulation;
  • judged to be more rewarding for caregivers than the neonates of non-using mothers at 1 month of age

So now there is a bonus to using Cannabis? Surely not?

On the flip side, a recent study discovered the active ingredient in Cannabis, THC, interferes with the formation of connections between nerve cells in the cerebral cortex, the part of the brain responsible for higher thinking skills and forming memories. These findings led to the conclusion that the drug could have direct effects on the child, possibly even into adulthood, or it could sensitise the brain to future drug exposure or neuropsychiatric illnesses. To me this is a pretty scary thought, that I could negatively effect my child’s brain development, and it is such a different conclusion to the study mentioned above. The same study that showed the negative effects of THC, conducted by neuroscientist Tibor Harkany of the Karolinska Institute in Sweden, and the Medical University of Vienna, in Austria, also showed that children whose mothers routinely smoked cannabis had a higher risk of depression in their youth and adult years. In a society where children are exposed to all sorts of things and we hear of so many tragedies where a child has taken their own life through depression, isn’t it a bone chilling thought to think that a simple act, that could easily have been avoided, could make a child more prone to depression?

I am neither promoting nor condemning the use of Cannabis during pregnancy, or at any other time, you will probably know by now that I am a very laid back person and would always try not to judge but to understand. I do, however, find the humongous amount of viable and genuine research, founded in science, to be fascinating. The results vary so much!

So Mamas, what do you think? Is cannabis a no no during pregnancy, or is it something that has no negative effects whatsoever and can be done if the mother wishes? Please do let me know your thoughts, and if you do want to share any research you know of then please feel free! Also, let me know whereabouts you are in the world, maybe the legality of the whole topic changes your opinion?

Harriet x

P.s – I thought it wise to quote my sources for the articles and research studies I’ve mentioned in my post – just in case you didn’t believe me 😉 So…

http://www.livescience.com/42853-marijuana-during-pregnancy-baby-brain.html, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/01/27/marijuana-while-pregnant-affects-babies-brain_n_4674820.html, http://norml.org/about/item/breathe-push-puff-pot-use-and-pregnancy-a-review-of-the-literature, http://patients4medicalmarijuana.wordpress.com/2009/12/20/marijuana-cannabis-use-in-pregnancy-dr-melanie-dreher/.

5 Comments

  1. April 25, 2017 / 5:17 pm

    Great post! Cannabis use has so many benefits. It’s great to see how the use of cannabis helped your morning sickness during pregnancy. Thanks for sharing.

  2. January 17, 2017 / 3:53 pm

    WOW! Thank you for sharing all of this cool research and findings! Moms want to be so careful on what they do during pregnancy, but that testimony about fixing morning sickness was pretty amazing.

  3. Carrie
    April 15, 2015 / 2:49 am

    I used marijuana regularly during both of my pregnancies. Both of my children support the positive research, speaking early, reading advanced for their age, very few illnesses, very sociable and everyone compliments their behavior. My son was adopted and so we can not attribute their likeness to my nurturing. I would not believe any negative research you read as the US has been spending the last 70 years desperately trying to find negative outcomes from marijuana use. Check out what Dr. Sanjay Gupta has to say about weed.

  4. AG
    May 15, 2014 / 6:19 pm

    Interesting topic but Huffington Post and the biased sounding patients4medicalmarjuana blog are not peer reviewed studies. You cannot trust their understanding of the journal articles they refer to or their potential bias, even if the research they reference is credible. A good website to get a better understanding of how the media can twist science can be found at http://www.nhs.uk/news/Pages/NewsArticles.aspx – here they show you the real research that goes into headlines in UK news sources – often wildly different to the slant the papers give. I also recommend Bad Science by Ben Goldacre, showing just how awful a lot of research is

    Obviously ethics prevent a lot of research into things that could affect pregnant women, but that’s just how it is. It doesn’t mean anecdotal stories like Dr. Wei-Ni Lin Curry are fact.

    • Harriet May 15, 2014 / 6:35 pm

      Excellent point AG, thanks for the link I will take a look. The huffington post reference and the patientsformedicalmarjuana were both press releases quoting external studies. I’ll have a good look at both sites you suggest – I find it to be a fasinating topic, something I would never have thought to be a debate or even questioned by medical professionals.
      Thanks for the comment!

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