Smoking during pregnancy may have a number of negative effects that jeopardize the health and wellbeing of both a mother and her baby. Cigarettes are usually considered as the main culprits here. But smoking cannabis is just as detrimental. Considering the prevalence of cannabis use, it has become pivotal to address problems it could cause during pregnancy. For example, the latest study on the subject found smoking cannabis when pregnant could lead to sleep problems in children. Scroll down to learn more.
Cannabis Use During Pregnancy
Men and women use cannabis alike. Marijuana use is also prevalent in different age groups or people of different socioeconomic status and cultural backgrounds. An increasing number of people receive inpatient treatment for cannabis use at a marijuana addiction treatment center for women in Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas. Probably the most troubling fact is that a lot of pregnant women use cannabis during pregnancy.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, cannabis use more than doubled among pregnant women in the U.S. in the period between 2002 and 2017. The same report reveals marijuana use was more common during the first trimester than during the second and third. The numbers showed that cannabis use among pregnant women jumped from 3.4% to 7% overall and from 5.7% to 12.1% during the first trimester.
One in 20 women in the U.S. reports using marijuana while pregnant, and it’s a major source for concern. Regardless of the consumption method, marijuana has a negative impact on the baby. The latest piece of evidence confirms the harmful effects of cannabis use.
Cannabis Use During Pregnancy and Sleep Problems in Children
A study from Sleep Health is one of the latest to observe the harmful impact of cannabis use during pregnancy on children. Scientists at the University of Colorado Boulder aimed to analyze the relationship between prenatal cannabis exposure and child sleep outcomes. For this purpose, they used data from the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development Study (ABCD Study). They analyzed sleep outcomes in relation to prenatal maternal cannabis use in 11,875 children ages nine to 10.
Part of the ABCD Study included an extensive questionnaire. Mothers were asked questions about marijuana use during pregnancy, how much they used, and how frequently. Additionally, mothers completed a survey about their children’s sleep patterns.
A staggering number of about 700 women reported they used marijuana when pregnant. Regarding frequency, 184 subjects used took cannabis daily, and 262 women used marijuana at least twice a day.
To get more accurate results, scientists also took into account other parameters such as education, marital status, race, and income. Even when they assessed all these factors, a certain pattern emerged.
Results showed that any kind of prenatal cannabis use was significantly associated with symptoms of disorders of initiating and maintaining sleep. Cannabis use also contributed to sleep-wake disorders, disorders of excessive somnolence (sleepiness, drowsiness). Women who used marijuana frequently were more likely to report somnolence in children. Their kids experienced difficulties waking up in the morning and were excessively tired during the day.
More precisely, children whose mothers used cannabis during pregnancy experienced sleep-related difficulties for as much as a decade. The study confirms that marijuana use in pregnancy has a long-term impact on the baby and affects their sleep pattern. Scientists recommend abstinence from marijuana use throughout pregnancy. Cannabis use rehab centers in North Texas, like Stonegate Center, could be the best solution for marijuana users who feel like they wouldn’t be able to stop using cannabis on their own.
The consequences of marijuana use during pregnancy go beyond impaired sleep cycle in children. Keep in mind that sufficient sleep is vital for proper growth, development, and general health of children.
At this point, researchers are not sure why cannabis use in pregnancy induces sleep problems in children for as much as a decade. The cannabinoid with psychoactive properties, THC, could be the culprit. Along with wide other cannabinoids, THC attaches to cannabinoid receptor CB1 in the developing brain. These cannabinoid receptors influence regions that regulate sleep. Further research on this subject is necessary. However, this is only one of many studies that confirmed the harmful influence of cannabis use in pregnancy.
Is Cannabis Use in Pregnancy That Dangerous?
The short answer would be: yes, it is.
But, we are going to take a walk through the most important discoveries on this subject.
February 2020 issue of the Reproductive Health journal featured a review that analyzed factors linked with cannabis use in pregnant women and the relationship between prenatal exposure to marijuana and developmental and mental disorders. The extensive review included four studies that focus on the prevalence of prenatal exposure to cannabis, seven articles that discuss detection methods for the use of drugs in pregnant women, nine molecular studies, six studies on rodents, and 33 articles on the link between cannabis exposure and developmental/psychopathological consequences.
Scientists found that the prevalence of cannabis use during pregnancy was high, despite the difficulties of detecting its consumption in pregnant women. Factors associated with cannabis use in pregnancy are difficult to describe. In most cases, being unmarried and lower education levels are more likely in women who use marijuana during pregnancy.
Results of this review showed that prenatal exposure to cannabis could cause alterations of the activities of brain areas such as the prefrontal cortex, the mesolimbic system, the striatum, and the hypothalamic-pituitary axis, all of which are involved in executive functions.
These brain areas also play a role in the reinforcement and regulation of emotional systems. Therefore, prenatal exposure to marijuana could lead to neuro-cognitive consequences, which may be present even in early adulthood. Some of these consequences include problems with executive function and repercussions on the daily life of an individual who was exposed to marijuana in the womb.
The study also revealed that cannabis use during pregnancy could play a role in the development of affective disorders and ADHD in children.
The Nature Medicine journal published a study in August 2020, which linked marijuana use during pregnancy with the development of autism specter disorder in children. Moreover, children exposed to cannabis in the womb also had a higher incidence of intellectual disability and learning disorders.
Back in 2002, BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology found that cannabis use in pregnancy was associated with a low birth weight of babies.
What’s a major source for concern is that 18.1% of pregnant women reporting marijuana use in the past year, in one study, met the criteria for cannabis abuse, dependence, or both. For that reason, it’s crucial to encourage women with marijuana use problems to get much-needed treatment. Besides, a long-term 90-day residential rehab center for marijuana abuse for men, there’s also the program for women who can recover and start a healthier lifestyle.
Why stop using cannabis, you wonder? It’s because studies show it can have a negative impact on babies. In fact, THC also appears in breastmilk. That means that marijuana use isn’t safe even when you start taking cannabis after giving birth.
The specific effects of marijuana on pregnancy and developing effects are often difficult to describe. This is in part because those who use cannabis often use tobacco, alcohol, and/or illicit drugs. That being said, cannabis smoke contains a great deal of the same respiratory disease-causing and carcinogenic toxins as tobacco smoke. In some cases, concentrations of these toxins are even higher in cannabis than in cigarette smoke.
How Does Marijuana Use in Pregnancy Affect Children?
As seen above, a growing body of evidence confirms cannabis use in pregnancy can harm children. But it’s impossible not to wonder why that is.
It all comes down to cannabinoids, active compounds in marijuana. The most notable cannabinoids are THC and CBD. It is THC that gives cannabis its psychoactive properties i.e., the high effect. Cannabinoids exhibit their central nervous system effects through cannabinoid receptor type 1 (CB1). Endocannabinoids play an important role in normal fetal brain development.
That’s why maternal exposure to even low doses of cannabinoid compounds leads to atypical locomotor activity, cognitive impairments, altered emotional behavior, and amplified sensitivity to drugs of abuse in adulthood. Basically, being exposed to marijuana in the womb could impair cognitive functioning and make a child more prone to drugs of abuse in adult years.
In fact, children who were exposed to cannabis in utero exhibited lower scores on tests of visual problem solving, visual-motor coordination, and visual analysis than their counterparts. Moreover, exposure to marijuana in the womb is linked with a lower attention span and a higher risk of behavioral problems. It’s also an independent predictor of cannabis use by the age of 14.
Can Marijuana Use Cause Miscarriage?
When discussing the role of marijuana use during pregnancy on babies, it’s impossible not to think about miscarriages. You’re probably wondering whether cannabis could lead to such an unfortunate scenario. Current evidence doesn’t suggest there is a link between miscarriage and cannabis use during pregnancy. That being said, the risk of stillbirth is increased.
One study compared illicit drug use and smoking in pregnancies with and without stillbirth. For this purpose, scientists conducted a case-control study from March 2006 to September 2008, covering over 90% of deliveries to residents of five diverse areas. Results showed that illicit drug use was linked with an elevated risk of stillbirth. The most commonly used illicit drug was cannabis. Scientists concluded that cannabis, alongside other illicit drugs and secondhand smoke, can increase the risk of stillbirths.
The journal Obstetrics and Gynecology published a meta-analysis and systematic review of 31 studies assessing neonatal outcomes in cannabis users compared to nonusers. Based on data, marijuana use during pregnancy was linked with a higher risk of low birth weight and preterm delivery. The relationship wasn’t independent i.e., the risk was expressed mainly because pregnant women also reported tobacco use or other confounding factors.
Considering the elevated risk of multiple complications, getting proper treatment for marijuana dependence is vital. What you can do is search for a marijuana detox center near me and consult the addiction specialists who will inform you about the treatment program and its benefits.
What About Marijuana Use and Breastfeeding?
At this point, data regarding marijuana use and breastfeeding is insufficient. However, breastfeeding mothers should strive to avoid using marijuana, regardless of the way of consumption.
Chemicals and compounds from marijuana can be passed from a mother to her baby through breast milk. These chemicals could harm the development of the child. Keep in mind that a lot more research on this subject is necessary. The best way to avoid any potential risk associated with marijuana use when breastfeeding is to simply stop using it in any form.
It’s also important to advise others to avoid smoking marijuana (and tobacco) near the baby. Secondhand smoke is just as dangerous for the developing child.
Is There a Safe Amount of Marijuana in Pregnancy?
Marijuana use is prevalent across the globe, and an increasing number of people use it on a daily basis. This also includes women, even those who are pregnant. When reading about the harmful effects of marijuana use during pregnancy on babies, you probably wonder if there’s a safe limit. For instance, how much marijuana you can smoke (or use in other ways) to get your daily cannabis “dose” but avoid complications at the same time?
However, there is no recognized safe amount of cannabis in pregnancy. That’s why pregnant women are advised to avoid marijuana. Keep in mind that THC can cross the placenta, and all complications associated with marijuana use in pregnancy are still uncertain, warranting for further research that would elucidate them.
Do I Need Treatment for Marijuana Use?
The biggest problem with marijuana is that many people don’t think they are addicted. The public perception of cannabis could be the reason here. Nowadays, marijuana is often observed as safe and controllable, so people think they cannot develop dependence and addiction.
However, marijuana addiction is a real problem that deserves an inpatient addiction treatment center for cannabis use disorder in Texas. It’s important to learn how to recognize the problem and acknowledge you have it.
Some of the signs that a person is addicted to marijuana include:
- Trying but failing to quit using cannabis.
- You avoid important activities with your friends and family, so you can stay at home and use marijuana.
- Continuing using marijuana even when it’s causing problems at home or work
A person who uses marijuana often has red eyes and eats more than usual. Marijuana use also causes problems with productivity, which can impact the work or school performance of an individual. Moreover, a person with marijuana use problem tends to spend a lot of time with other people who use cannabis regularly.
Even a sheer thought of spending a day without marijuana seems impossible. If you recognized yourself in these lines, then chances are high you have a problem with marijuana dependence or addiction. Keep in mind that marijuana addiction has more negative consequences and may impair your health. After all, cannabis can harm you even if you’re not pregnant and don’t have a child.
Once you acknowledge the problem, do not despair. Like other problems, marijuana addiction is treatable. Successful recovery is achievable and includes detox and inpatient treatment. During the treatment, a patient attends therapy sessions and adopts better coping mechanisms to avoid using marijuana again.
The process of recovery teaches patients how to deal with stress, traumas, and other negative stimuli in a healthier manner without using marijuana. Of course, everything starts with evaluation in the treatment center. The treatment is tailored to each person and their level of addiction.
A study from Sleep Health found that cannabis use in pregnancy can cause sleep problems in children for as much as a decade. This is not the first study to put marijuana use during pregnancy in the context of health problems in children. A great body of evidence shows that cannabis use can lead to behavioral problems, decreased cognitive functions, low birth weight, just to name a few. There is no safe dose of marijuana during pregnancy. You should avoid using cannabis, in any way, when pregnant and breastfeeding. Plus, you should also avoid exposing your children to secondhand smoke in the same environment where someone else is using marijuana. The inpatient treatment for marijuana use is an important step toward living your life cannabis-free.
John Eckelbarger is a Business Development Representative for Stonegate Center. With a BSA in Chemistry from the University of Texas at Austin, he has an interest in the neurobiology of addiction & pharmacology of drugs. He hopes to bolster Stonegate Center to the forefront of addiction medicine through bold, innovative content. He is currently pursuing his MBA in Finance from Texas Christian University.