Prenatal Marijuana Use Can Affect Infant Size, Behavior, Study Finds

We know that smoking cigarettes during pregnancy has negative effects on birth weights and is linked to health problems in childhood. Now, researchers have found that smoking marijuana can impact birth weights and lead to behavioral problems, and the effects are worsened when combined with tobacco use.

Nearly 30 percent of women who smoke during pregnancy report using marijuana as well. Researchers studied nearly 250 mothers and their infants; 173 of the babies had been exposed to tobacco and/or marijuana during their mothers’ pregnancies.

Compared to babies exposed to no drugs, those exposed to both drugs, especially in the third trimester, were:

  • smaller in length, weight, and head size,
  • more likely to be born earlier,
  • more irritable,
  • more easily frustrated, and
  • less likely to be able to calm themselves easily.

Women with symptoms of anger, hostility, and aggression reported more stress while pregnant and were more likely to continue tobacco and marijuana use throughout. This co-exposure increased the odds of giving birth to smaller babies who were more irritable and frustrated.

Finding ways to help women reduce stress and deal with negative emotions as well as to discourage both tobacco and marijuana use during pregnancy may lead to healthier babies.

This study was funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Read Science Daily account of it here. Read the study itself in the March/April issue of Child Development here.

Cannabis Use Up among Parents with Children in the Home

Marijuana use has increased among both parents who smoke cigarettes and non-smoking parents, threatening the overall decline in children’s exposure to second-hand smoke, a new study from Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health and the City University of New York reveals.

Researchers analyzed data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health. They found that marijuana use increased among parents with children living in the home from 5 percent in 2002 to 7 percent in 2015, while cigarette smoking decreased from 28 percent to 20 percent during that time.

In contrast, marijuana use among cigarette-smoking parents rose from 11 percent in 2002 to 17 percent in 2015, compared to an increase of 2 percent to 4 percent among non-smoking parents, making cigarette-smokers’ marijuana use nearly four times greater (17 percent vs 4 percent). Their daily marijuana use is five times greater (5 percent vs 1 percent).

The researchers say the results of their study support the reduction in overall second-hand tobacco smoke exposure but add new public health concerns about children’s exposure to second-hand marijuana smoke.

The study was funded by the National Institutes for Health and the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Read Science Daily account of this study here. Read the Pediatrics study itself, in which the illustration above appears, here.

Most Marijuana Dispensaries Give Inaccurate Advice on Pot in Pregnancy

Nearly 70 percent of employees at 400 Colorado marijuana dispensaries say they would recommend marijuana to pregnant mothers experiencing nausea, a new study finds.

Researchers at the University of Colorado School of Medicine and the Denver Health and Hospital Authority called dispensaries, pretending to be eight weeks pregnant and saying they felt “really nauseated.”

Of the 400 dispensaries contacted, employees at 277 recommended a marijuana product for morning sickness. Most based their recommendations on personal opinion. Some 36 percent said the drug is safe in pregnancy; about half (53 percent) said they weren’t sure of that.

One employee said that marijuana edibles wouldn’t be a risk to the baby, because “they would be going through the digestional [digestive] tract.”

“As cannabis legalization becomes more common, women should be cautioned that advice from dispensary employees might not necessarily be informed by medical evidence,” the researchers note.

Read Live Science account of the study here. Read the study itself in the June issue of Obstetrics and Gynecology here.

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