As marijuana legalization spreads across states, its use during pregnancy is a growing concern. While the effects of substances like alcohol on developing babies have been extensively studied, marijuana’s impacts are less understood and less publicized. This lack of comprehensive research has led to uncertainty in public perceptions.
The trend of increasing marijuana use during pregnancy is notable. In 2002, 2.3% of pregnant women reported using marijuana, which increased to 3.84% by 2014, a significant rise. Concurrently, the potency of marijuana, as measured by tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) content, has also increased.
In California and across the United States, marijuana use during pregnancy is rising. In 2020, about 1 in 12 women reported using cannabis during pregnancy, up from 3% in 2002. This increase occurs despite potential risks to the developing baby.
A Harvard study highlights the concerns about how marijuana exposure affects developing babies’ brains. The study suggests that using marijuana during pregnancy can lead to health issues in newborns, such as low birth weight. Moreover, inhaling marijuana smoke may have similar detrimental effects as tobacco smoke, potentially leading to developmental problems.
Despite these concerns, a Boston University study found no evidence that marijuana use lowers the chances of getting pregnant. However, experts caution against using marijuana, in any form, during pregnancy. The risks include oxygen deprivation from smoking, which can affect fetal development, and the unknown safety of vaporizing marijuana.
Given the potential risks, it’s advisable for parents to avoid marijuana use while pregnant or nursing. The University of California, San Francisco provides guidelines emphasizing the potential harm of THC to the baby. The FAMU MMERI forum also urges caution, highlighting the risks associated with all forms of marijuana during and after pregnancy.
While the debate continues, and more research is needed, the prevailing advice is caution and avoidance of marijuana use during these critical periods of development.