One of the upsides of state-legal cannabis is that it has opened the door to all sorts of research. But not all the research is producing results favorable to the cannabis industry. A case in point is a study recently published in the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology, a study that raises legitimate concerns over cannabis use during pregnancy.
Data from the study suggests that cannabis consumption during the first 6-14 weeks of pregnancy increases the risks of negative outcomes. Such outcomes include stillbirth, poor fetal growth, and even hypertension among mothers-to-be.
The data does not bode well for mothers when combined with other studies suggesting increasing numbers of women are using cannabis during pregnancy to alleviate some of their symptoms. If the results of this most recent study are accurate, we have little choice but to consider the desire for positive outcomes against the desire to make pregnancy a more comfortable experience.
Cannabis and the Placenta
Without going into a whole lot of detail, it appears as though cannabis has a negative impact on the placenta during the early stages of pregnancy. The placenta is vital to the development of the baby in the womb. It provides nutrients, supplies oxygen, removes waste, and contributes to the production of hormones babies need to grow.
It stands to reason that impairing the placenta’s function would lead to negative outcomes. Therein lies the concern. If cannabis does interfere with normal placental function, one could expect problems as a result.
For the record, researchers analyzed data from more than 9,200 pregnant women, among which just under 6% tested positive for cannabis consumption. Their study data did not reveal how frequently the women were consuming, when they last consumed in relation to the test, and whether they consumed recreationally. Researchers say that further research should consider those parameters.
Another Thing to Worry About
Unfortunately, the study’ findings give pregnant women, and those who hope to get pregnant, another thing to worry about. It is bad enough that they have to be concerned about things as seemingly minor as cold medication and allergy pills. Now they also need to be concerned about cannabis, whether they use it medically or recreationally.
The reality is that everything a woman does during pregnancy could potentially impact the baby in the womb. Certain types of activities and behaviors can lead to better pregnancy outcomes. Likewise, other types of activities and behaviors can lead to poor outcomes. That is just the reality of the situation.
Should pregnant women make use of medical cannabis to alleviate some of the symptoms they experience? That is up to them and their medical providers. But if the study data is to be believed, cannabis should be used with caution.
Ultimately a Medical Decision
What it boils down to is ultimately a medical decision. It is no different than the decision made prior to a Utah consumer visiting Park City’s Deseret Wellness to purchase medical cannabis. According to the pharmacy’s operators, a patient must consult with a medical provider and get a cannabis recommendation before obtaining in medical cannabis card.
Medical providers and their patients must weigh the pros and cons of the drug in order to make a wise decision. If that’s the standard operating procedure for conditions like chronic pain and PTSD, it should also be the procedure for treating pregnancy symptoms.
Caution is warranted, given what the recently published data reveals. It is possible that using cannabis in the early stages of pregnancy can increase the chances of a poor outcome. It’s definitely something pregnant women need to think about.