There hasn’t been too much research into the maternal use of cannabis and how it affects unborn babies, until now. Certain states have the authority to take a child away from a mother who has consumed cannabis during pregnancy, however it seems like moderate cannabis consumption during pregnancy may be less harmful than previously believed.
Dr. Shayna Conner was the lead researcher responsible for the study that set out to determine if cannabis use during pregnancy leads to negative health repercussions for the children who are in utero. Since the researchers could not ethically administer cannabis to pregnant women, they instead reviewed various observational studies in which compared birth outcomes to cannabis consumption.
Common birth outcomes associated with cannabis consumption appeared to be low birth weight and preterm delivery at first glance. However, upon further investigation, the team determined that other factors like tobacco use were the cause for these effects and that cannabis itself was not responsible for low birth weight or preterm delivery.
The study explained, “Maternal marijuana use during pregnancy is not an independent risk factor for adverse neonatal outcomes after adjusting for the cofounding factors. Thus, the association between maternal marijuana use and adverse outcomes appears attributable to concomitant tobacco use and other cofounding factors.”
To clarify further, the study found that when cannabis is used by itself and sparingly, it poses no threat to the health of a baby. However, when tobacco is used with cannabis, the instances of low birth rate and premature birth are more frequent. Cannabis cannot protect unborn babies from the dangers associated with using tobacco, alcohol or other drugs while pregnant.
Dr. Conner does not recommend anyone who is pregnant to consume cannabis. Conner told NPR, “Any foreign substance that doesn’t directly benefit maternal or fetal health should be avoided.” This study focuses primarily on the effects of moderate cannabis use on babies at birth, but it does not look into long-term effects that are claimed by other studies, such as ADHD or cognitive difficulties. Until there is more research into cannabis and pregnancy, expecting mothers should be informed about what they choose to consume.