Cannabis in pregnancy

As we know, cannabis is a herbaceous plant. Among its different varieties, some of these are used as narcotics, as recreational drugs. They are often smoked with tobacco.

Cannabis (drug, ganja, hashish, marijuana, weed) contains over 100 chemicals, many of which can cross the placenta and reach the fetus in the uterus.

Is cannabis safe in pregnancy?

There is evidence to suggest that use of these substances during pregnancy may increase the chance of having a premature and/or low birth weight baby and may also affect the baby’s long-term learning and behaviour.

Cannabis is often mixed with smoking tobacco: Tobacco smoking has been strongly linked to certain pregnancy-related problems.

Pregnant women should therefore avoid using it. Talk to your doctor or midwife if you need help doing this.

What happens if I have already used cannabis during pregnancy?

Once you know you are pregnant, due to the possible problems described above and for the well-being of your baby, it is best to avoid continued use.

Can cannabis in pregnancy cause birth defects?

Until there is more scientific data, we cannot say for sure whether using cannabis during pregnancy will cause birth defects in the baby.

Available studies have identified possible links between cannabis use during pregnancy and a specific type of heart defect, called a ventricular septal defect, as well as gastroschisis (a condition in which some of the baby’s internal organs protrude through a space in the abdomen with a protrusion of the abdominal viscera).

However, only a few of the pregnant women who used cannabis gave birth to babies with these birth defects, implying that more research is needed to confirm these findings and to rule out links to other types of birth defects that they have not yet been studied.

Since tobacco smoking in pregnancy has been linked to a number of birth defects, smoking cannabis mixed with tobacco may increase the chance of these birth defects in the baby.

Can cannabis in pregnancy cause a miscarriage?

The few studies carried out so far do not suggest that there is a link between cannabis in pregnancy and miscarriage.

Tobacco smoking in pregnancy has been linked to an increased chance of miscarriage. Therefore, women who smoke cannabis mixed with tobacco may be more likely to miscarry than non-smokers.

Can using cannabis during pregnancy cause stillbirth?

Three scientific studies have demonstrated a possible link between cannabis in pregnancy and stillbirth. However, in at least one of these studies, the majority of those who used cannabis also smoked tobacco, which in itself increases the risk of stillbirth.

So it was not possible to say whether the increased probability of stillbirth was due to cannabis.

Can cannabis in pregnancy cause premature birth and low birth weight?

There is some evidence that women who use cannabis during pregnancy are more likely to have a premature birth and a low birth weight baby.

However it is unclear whether these effects are directly related to cannabis or may be due to smoking cannabis mixed with tobacco smoke which is strongly linked to these outcomes.

Can cannabis during pregnancy cause other health problems for the baby?

Withdrawal symptoms at birth (SAN, neonatal abstinence syndrome)

Clinical withdrawal signs and symptoms in babies are thought to occur when the baby’s body has to adjust to no longer receiving certain substances through the placenta. If left untreated, neonatal withdrawal can be dangerous for the baby.

There is some evidence that babies exposed to cannabis while in the womb are at increased risk of these withdrawal symptoms.

Therefore, if you have used cannabis in the weeks leading up to the birth it is important that your doctor and midwife know as well as your baby may need close monitoring and/or supportive treatment for a few days after delivery. birth.

Learning or behavioral problems

The brain of a fetus develops continuously until the end of pregnancy. It is therefore possible that your exposure at any stage of pregnancy to certain substances could have lasting effects on your learning or behaviour.

The effects of cannabis on mood and emotions are due to it affecting the brain. So cannabis in pregnancy could have long-lasting effects on the developing brain of the unborn baby.

Several studies have shown that, compared to children whose mothers did not use cannabis, children whose mothers did use cannabis during pregnancy are more likely to have thinking, learning and behavior problems.

It can be difficult to tell whether children who were exposed to a particular substance in utero are more likely to have problems with learning or behavior.

  • Often the various studies do not investigate the same problems and therefore their results can be difficult to compare.
  • Also, some of these ;test; children only when they are young, so we don’t know if they then outgrow any observed problems or if they show more problems with their learning or behavior as they get older.
  • Finally, it is often not possible to separate the effects of cannabis exposure in the womb from exposure to other factors in the home environment that may also affect their learning and behavior after birth.
  • More research is therefore needed on the potential effects of cannabis during pregnancy in relation to long-term learning and child development.

Will my baby need more monitoring during pregnancy?

As part of routine prenatal care, most women in their 20th week of pregnancy are given the option of a scan to check the baby’s growth and to look for any possible birth defects.

Using cannabis during pregnancy does not usually require special monitoring of the baby.
However, your baby’s growth and well-being may need to be monitored more closely if you are heavy, as pregnancy in obese women must be considered high risk.

Is there any risk for the child if the father smokes?

No studies have specifically looked at whether the father used cannabis, and whether it could harm the child through its effects on sperm.

However most experts agree that this is highly unlikely.
However, more research is needed on the effects of the use of drugs and medicines by men at the time of conception.

If any member of the pregnant woman’s family were to smoke cannabis, it should also be considered that secondhand smoke can potentially be a source of exposure.

Ideally, a pregnant woman should avoid breathing cannabis and/or the tobacco smoke of others, as well as not using cannabis itself.

Who can I speak to if I have questions?

If you have any doubts or questions regarding the topics covered, discuss them with your doctor.

Katherine Johnson, M.D., is a board-certified obstetrician-gynecologist with clinical expertise in general obstetrics and gynecology, family planning, women’s health, and gynecology.

She is affiliated with the Obstetrics and Gynecology division at an undisclosed healthcare institution and the online platform,

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