Marijuana Use During Pregnancy Highly Problematic
While the complete legalization of marijuana is necessary for an array of reasons in the United States, it is important to pay special attention to risks associated with the substance. A new study published in JAMA Psychiatry found that children who had been exposed to cannabis while in utero were more likely to possess psychotic-like behaviors, attention, social, and sleep problems, as well as weaker cognitive abilities. The more a woman used cannabis during her pregnancy, the more apparent the negative impacts became.
Marijuana use during pregnancy has been a growing phenomenon in the United States, as well as Canada. An analysis by the National Institute on Drug Abuse in 2019 of over 450,000 pregnant women aged 12 to 44 found that marijuana use during pregnancy more than doubled from 2002 to 2017. Researchers found that most cases of marijuana use during pregnancy were during the first three months of pregnancy, and use was more recreational than was medicinal.
Scientists suggest the first three month of pregnancy are the most sensitive time for brain development in the fetus. THC from cannabis use travels from the mother’s bloodstream and enters the fetus’s developing brain. According to the Center For Diseases Control and Prevention, past studies have even proven a link to marijuana use during pregnancy and low birth-weights, hyperactivity, and attention issues. One study even found that women who use cannabis during pregnancy are 1.5 times more likely to have a child with autism.
Due to growing access to marijuana and an increase in the substance's potency, United States Surgeon General Jerome Adams warns that marijuana use even after birth can be dangerous to a child’s development because traces of THC have been found in breast milk for up to six days after the use of cannabis. Further, he warns that marijuana smoke contains the same components as tobacco and should never be smoked around a newborn.