Cannabis Use in Pregnancy

Image of a part of a cannabis plant (marijuana)

Cannabis exposure in-utero is a growing concern, particularly in regions where cannabis use is legalized or decriminalized. The use of cannabis during pregnancy has been linked to a range of negative outcomes for the developing fetus, including impaired neurodevelopment, low birth weight, and behavioral problems. This article will explore the effects of cannabis exposure in-utero and provide an overview of the current state of research in this area.

Cannabis is the most commonly used illicit substance during pregnancy, with rates of use varying by geography and demographic characteristics. In a recent study, it was reported that approximately 7% of pregnant women in the United States reported using cannabis during pregnancy (Volkow et al., 2019). In some states where cannabis is legal, this number is even higher.

The effects of cannabis on fetal development are still being studied, but early research suggests that cannabis use during pregnancy can have a range of negative outcomes for the developing fetus. One of the most significant concerns is impaired neurodevelopment, particularly in regions of the brain that are critical for learning, memory, and attention. This can result in a range of cognitive and behavioral problems that can persist into adulthood (Ebrahimi-Fakhari et al., 2020).

Low birth weight is another potential consequence of cannabis exposure in-utero. This is a significant concern, as low birth weight is a leading cause of infant mortality and can also lead to long-term health problems, such as developmental delays, cognitive impairment, and behavioral problems (Warner et al., 2021).

In addition to these concerns, cannabis use during pregnancy has also been linked to an increased risk of stillbirth and premature birth. These outcomes can be devastating for families and can result in significant emotional and financial costs (Volkow et al., 2019).

Despite these risks, many pregnant women continue to use cannabis, often due to a lack of understanding of the potential consequences or the belief that cannabis is safe during pregnancy. This highlights the need for more education and awareness campaigns to ensure that women are informed about the risks of cannabis use during pregnancy.

In conclusion, cannabis exposure in-utero is a growing concern, particularly in regions where cannabis use is legalized or decriminalized. The use of cannabis during pregnancy has been linked to a range of negative outcomes for the developing fetus, including impaired neurodevelopment, low birth weight, and behavioral problems. Despite these risks, many pregnant women continue to use cannabis, highlighting the need for more education and awareness campaigns to ensure that women are informed about the potential consequences of cannabis use during pregnancy.

References:

Ebrahimi-Fakhari, D., Agricola, K. D., Tudor, C., Krueger, D. A., Franz, D. N., & Koh, S. (2020). The impact of cannabis exposure on the developing brain: A systematic review. Translational psychiatry, 10(1), 1-14.

 

 


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