January 23, 2010

Pregnant Moms Should Not Smoke Marijuana

New studies show that women who smoke marijuana while pregnant may be setting up their babies for future developmental problems.

Children of heavy pot smokers may have problems such as short-term memory loss, trouble concentrating, and clouded judgment.

One study even found that young children whose mothers smoked marijuana during pregnancy had a higher risk of leukemia than those whose mothers did not.

What's more, there's no way to know if the pot you're smoking has been laced with other drugs (such as PCP) or contaminated with pesticides, which would put your baby at an even greater risk.

Although smoking cigarettes while pregnant is known to impair fetal growth, studies on marijuana use have been inconclusive.

The findings of a recent study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, conducted by Hannan El Marroun of Erasmus University Medical Center in Rotterdam, shows that marijuana use, even restricted to early pregnancy, may have irreversible effects on fetal growth.

This study was performed on 7,500 pregnant women who were surveyed on their use of alcohol, tobacco and drugs, and had ultrasounds to chart fetal growth during the first, second and third trimesters.

Overall, 214 women said they had used marijuana before and during early pregnancy; 81 percent quit after learning they were pregnant, but 41 women continued to smoke marijuana throughout pregnancy.

The researchers found that, on average, marijuana users gave birth to smaller babies, particularly those who had used throughout pregnancy.

Researchers suggest the only way to prevent this is for women to completely quit smoking pot before becoming pregnant.

According to El Marroun's team, mothers' marijuana use could stunt fetal growth for several reasons. Like tobacco smoking, it may deprive the fetus of oxygen. It is also possible that the byproducts of marijuana directly affect the developing nervous and hormonal systems of the fetus.

Finally, the researchers note, pregnant women who use marijuana may have other factors in their lives - such as a less-than-healthy diet or chronic stress -- that could contribute to poor fetal growth.


On the Net: