If you are pregnant and using any form of cannabis products, consider stopping.
That’s the conclusion of a new study that finds that marijuana use during early pregnancy has significant health effects on fetal development.
“That’s why these findings are especially important. People often don’t even know they’re pregnant in the first trimester,” said lead author and professor of psychology. said Beth Bailey, director of population health research at the National University School of Medicine. Central Michigan University in Mount Pleasant.
“Our study drilled down to look very specifically at a specific point in pregnancy, the first trimester. , about a third of a pound,” she said.
A third of a pound may not seem like a big deal, but such small weight losses are linked to health problems as children grow, Bailey said.
“Low birth weight is one of the strongest predictors of child health and long-term development,” she said. “These children have higher rates of developmental delays, ADHD[attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder]learning disabilities, and higher rates of emotional problems.”
The study found that if marijuana exposure continued for the rest of the pregnancy, birth weight was reduced by an additional 31 grams (0.07 pounds). In addition, neonatal head circumference decreased when marijuana use continued throughout pregnancy. If your head circumference is small, your brain may not be developing properly during pregnancy.
“Even if pregnant women stopped using marijuana by the end of their pregnancy, babies were born with about a centimeter (0.4 inch) less head circumference,” Bailey says. “What we tell women is that there is no absolute certainty that using marijuana will affect the growth of your baby. I know the risks are pretty high.”
Bailey said that reducing the level of marijuana consumption during pregnancy is beneficial, but scientists do not yet have research data to confirm whether there are levels of marijuana use that are not harmful to the fetus, so developing He said it may not be enough to protect the baby. .
What is the safest way? “My advice to women is to avoid all marijuana use during pregnancy and preferably stop before conception,” Bailey said.
the study, Published on Tuesday The paper, published in the journal Frontiers in Pediatrics, used data from the medical records of 109 pregnant women who delivered at the Central Michigan Medical College Obstetrics Clinic. The data were compared with data from 171 people who did not use marijuana and served as a control group.
Pregnant marijuana users were significantly younger, more likely to be single and eligible for Medicaid, and less likely to have a high school education or higher than those who did not use marijuana.
Briana Moore, an assistant professor of epidemiology at the Colorado School of Public Health in Aurora, said the number of studies was small, but the studies were robust as urine tests confirmed marijuana use. She was not involved in the research.
“Urinary THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) testing is more objective than self-reporting because pregnant people may be reluctant to say they use cannabis,” she said.
Studies have shown that self-reported cannabis use during pregnancy about 7%added Moore. but, 2019 survey Researchers who tested the umbilical cord for TCH found that prevalence of cannabis use during pregnancy could be as high as 22.4%.
Many pregnant women may use cannabis to treat pregnancy-related symptoms such as nausea and pain, or as an “alternative” to prescription medications such as antidepressants, Moore said.
Marijuana use can adversely affect fetal development during the first trimester of pregnancy, when many women may not be aware they are pregnant.
“But one study suggests that very few pregnant women (0.5%) use cannabis for medical purposes only,” Moore said. “There is work to be done in understanding the contextual, social, and personal factors that influence cannabis use during pregnancy.
“It will help identify techniques and tools to limit cannabis use during pregnancy,” she added. mindfulness techniques To deal with stress and “triggers,” and over-the-counter medications such as nausea. ”
Marijuana use during pregnancy is on the rise, Bailey said. Stated.
Compounding the problem, studies from the 1990s did not look at specific gestation periods and found little overall harm to the fetus from marijuana use, Bailey said. Some of the older information may now be distributed on social media.
“Studies show minimal effects on birth weight at the time and subtle long-term effects on child development,” Bailey said. “But what we’re seeing with legalization is that people are probably using it more often, and now that marijuana is grown commercially, there are marijuana strains that contain stronger THC levels. Research over the last 10 years has confirmed a very significant effect on the fetus.”
The effects can be exacerbated by a combination of bad health behaviors. Previous studies “are fairly well established” that smoking during pregnancy has a greater impact on birth weight than marijuana exposure, Bailey said.
“However, we find that the combination of tobacco and marijuana in women has a greater impact on birth weight than either smoking alone,” she says.