Why pregnant women shouldn’t smoke pot

Close view of woman's hand with hemp leaves

Close view of woman's hand with hemp leaves

More and more pregnant women are smoking pot.
According to a study published in the journal JAMA, almost a quarter of pregnant teenagers and 20 percent of pregnant women between the ages of 18 and 24 admitted to using the drug.
In California, where the study was conducted, recreational marijuana use is legal. But scientists can’t say for sure how THC, a psychoactive cannabinoid found in marijuana, affects a growing fetus or how much of the substance passes through the placenta. Research has been done on monkeys and other mammals.
“In all the animal models, the THC will cross the placenta, causing fetal exposure to be about 10 percent of the mom’s level,” said Kathleen Augustine, a certified nurse midwife with Tidelands Health Women’s Center.
The percentage of THC the fetus was exposed to increased with repetitive use, she says.

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The placenta acts as a filter that protects the developing fetus from harm while inside its mother’s body. Since research hasn’t been thoroughly conducted on humans, it’s unclear how much THC actually passes through a human placenta.
But what’s the actual impact of marijuana exposure on children? Some studies have shown that children exposed to marijuana can score lower on visual assessments, experience developmental delays and can struggle with hyperactivity disorders, Augustine said. Research also suggests that pregnant women who use marijuana may be more likely to have a stillborn child.
“Because we just don’t have really good longitudinal studies, we have to base our recommendations on the studies involving animals. And since it looks like THC does transmit to the baby, absolutely don’t smoke marijuana while you’re pregnant,” Augustine said.
Even if you’re thinking about trying to become pregnant, Augustine says to stop using marijuana, drinking alcohol and smoking cigarettes. Take prenatal vitamins well in advance of trying to conceive, she said.
“You want to go into pregnancy in the healthiest state. Eating well and staying healthy is the best way to see good outcomes for babies,” she said.

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