Marijuana, Pregnancy, And Birth Defects

Pregnant Woman SmokingA recent study showed 70% of Colorado’s pot shops recommending marijuana to pregnant women (1) .  Cause for alarm is the many studies  linking marijuana, pregnancy, and birth defects.  So much so that even The March of Dimes recommends against getting high while pregnant. (2)

It’s probably a good idea to abstain completely.  Even avoid consuming marijuana edibles (cookies, candy, bownies, etc.) while pregnant.  There is just too much risk with marijuana, pregnancy, and birth defects.

Marijuana Before Getting Pregnant

There’s research that suggests that getting high can make it more difficult for you to get pregnant in the first place.  Specifically, marijuana adversely affects the hormones women need in order to become pregnant.  Further, it can disrupt their menstrual cycles.  Lastly, getting high can adversely affect the male’s sperm count.

Marijuana can make significant alterations in the structure of sperm cells, causing serious deformity. (4)  It has also been shown that using marijuana, even in very small amounts, can cause temporary sterility.

Getting High While Pregnant

The Center for Disease Control warns about marijuana, pregnancy, and birth defects.(3).  THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, passes through your blood stream and into your baby’s body.  THC is known to remain in smokers’ bodies for 60 days.

Studies have shown that getting high while pregnant may result in premature birth, birth defects, mental abnormalities, and increased risk of leukemia in children. (4)  Marijuana causes abnormal cell division, causing hereditary defects.  Women who get high while pregnant may give birth to babies that are undersized, underweight, or exhibit other abnormalities.

Anecephaly is a risk with marijuana during pregnancy.(2)  This is a several neural tube defect affecting the brain and spine.  Babies born with this condition are usually missing parts of their brain, skull, or scalp.  They usually only survive a few hours after birth.  Other complications include fetal growth restriction, anemia, brain abnormalities, and stillbirth.

Marijuana users’ babies are more likely to spend time in the hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit.  That’s because they have problems such as withdrawal symptoms, tremors (shakes), long crying jags, and sleeplessness. As they get older, these children tend to exhibit issues with behavior, memory, problem-solving, learning, depression, and paying attention.

Nursing While Stoned

Nursing MotherGetting high while nursing appears to be a very bad idea.  THC stores in one’s body fat for 60 days or more.  Women’s breasts are made of fat.  Thus, they can potentially store higher THC concentrations.  THC is transmitted from mother to baby via breast milk.

The American Academy of Pediatrics lists marijuana as one of the drugs with reports of adverse effects on infants during breastfeeding.(5)  It may also be a concern that the pot-smoking mother may be too impaired to responsibly care for the infant.  Babies whose mothers smoke pot are believed to be at higher risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome).

Bottom Line

Most all agree that more research needs to be done regarding the dangers of marijuana; as well as any possible benefits that could be evident.  But for now, if you want to get pregnant, are pregnant, or are breastfeeding your baby, you should stay away from marijuana.