Everyone who pays even the slightest amount of attention knows alcohol can prove harmful to pregnant women. But not everyone yet understands the health issues surrounding marijuana use during pregnancy.
When the United States prohibited the sale and use of alcohol in the early 20th century, one argument used by critics charged that people would abuse alcohol if they had legal access to it.
Eventually, the majority prevailed. The country decided not to penalize those who could use alcohol responsibly because of a minority of people who could not.
Marijuana, still in the beginning stages of gaining acceptance across the country, finds itself in a similar situation.
Responsible marijuana advocates work hard to get information out. This information is not just for the adults who use marijuana, but also for the children in their lives.
Put The Children First
Much like adults should ensure that children do not have access to their cannabis stash – particularly edibles – they also should know the dangers of using marijuana in certain situations.
One of those is pregnancy.
A new study from the Georgetown University Medical Center stressed the need for more thorough studies of the effect of marijuana use during pregnancy. But the research they did find proved troubling.
The Georgetown researchers looked at research conducted between 1975 and 2015, primarily tests done on animal embryos. They found that THC, the active chemical in cannabis, can cross through the placenta and expose the developing fetus to the chemical.
They noted that research already indicates that cannabis may potentially help slow the growth of cancer cells. However, these same traits might work against the development of a fetus.
“We know from limited human studies that marijuana use during pregnancy is associated with many of the same risks as tobacco, including miscarriage, birth defects, developmental delays and learning disabilities, but animal research suggests the potential for many more developmental issues linked with the drug,” the study’s senior investigator, Dr. G. Ian Gallicano, associate professor of biochemistry and molecular and cellular biology at Georgetown, said in a release accompanying the study.
More Research Needed to Determine the Effects of Marijuana Use During Pregnancy
As with many of the potential medical benefits of marijuana, researchers have only started to look more thoroughly at the potential negative effects. This statement is according to the release from Georgetown. The Georgetown study started as a project of four students in Gallicano’s class, Sexual Development and Reproduction.
Some of the highlights of the study include:
- THC remains in the body for weeks, especially in the maternal tissues, according to a study of pregnant dogs.
- Levels of THC have become stronger since 1970, particularly in some edibles.
- THC can interfere with the body’s use of folic acid, an essential chemical for normal development and growth of the placenta and embryo.
While more research needs to be conducted, the new study delivers a clear message for those who use marijuana. They should remain aware of the possible complications, particularly for pregnant women. While the health benefits of cannabis have become more apparent through studies, users also must remain know about potential health issues.