During pregnancy, cannabis is among the recreational substances used most commonly. Physicians predict as it becomes more readily available across the country, its use among new mothers will rise. Although it’s historically been taboo, that’s largely because we haven’t known that much about it. Research on the health effects of marijuana is scant as it is, and it’s even more sparse when it comes to the effects on fetuses.
To be clear: The American Congress of Obstetrics and Gynecologists state in no uncertain terms to abstain from both alcohol and marijuana. But we all know that many doctors have excused the occasional single glass of Cabernet later in pregnancy. Could having a few puffs of a joint soon be seen in the same way?
A recent report indicates that research on the effects of marijuana during pregnancy aren’t as concrete as some health care professionals may have let on. This certainly doesn’t mean we’re encouraging mothers-to-be to rush to their nearest dispensary to cure their nausea or other pregnancy symptoms. However, the research should come as an important reminder that there is much we still do not know.
The newest study, conducted by researchers at Washington University in the St. Louis School of Medicine, explored what the collective research on the issue has said so far. Study authors analyzed nearly three dozen pre-existing studies on use of cannabis during pregnancy. What they concluded is that, after controlling for tobacco, there wasn’t any link between a mother’s use of marijuana and negative outcomes for the babies. That included instances of preterm delivery and low birth weight.
Researchers do concede this does not conclusively prove medical marijuana is safe for pregnancy. However, they are encouraging public health officials and doctors to consider perhaps pivoting some of their efforts at prenatal health away from marijuana and instead look to substances we know for sure are harmful and also heavily used – namely, tobacco and alcohol.
There has been some criticism of the research, which was published in the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology. For example, some say the studies relied on by these researchers weren’t thorough enough to have accounted for all the possible side effects that marijuana during pregnancy might cause. Further, the study is limited to neonatal outcomes. It doesn’t delve into the effects that marijuana might have later in the child’s life.
Still, this is not to say women should be doomed to suffer with no relief from annoying and sometimes serious, debilitating ailments. Given that some women report pregnancy is the worst they have ever felt, there is certainly a demand to help them find a safe form of relief. Of course, anytime the side effects of certain substances are unknown, unless there are major benefits, doctors don’t advise using it. But while this newest study shouldn’t be taken as a green light for pregnant women to start using marijuana, there is evidence to suggest that marijuana, which is increasingly recognized as legitimate medicine, should be further studied for the way in which its properties could benefit pregnant women.
The Los Angeles CANNABIS LAW Group represents growers, dispensaries, collectives, patients and those facing marijuana charges. Call us at 714-937-2050.
Pot And Pregnancy: No Harm Seen At Birth, But Many Questions Remain, Sept. 8, 2016, By Katherine Hobson, NPR
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Medical Marijuana May be Best Solution to Painkiller Epidemic, Sept. 3, 3016, Los Angeles Marijuana Lawyer