Weed is a drug derived from the plant Cannabis sativa. It’s used for recreational and medicinal purposes.
What a mom-to-be puts on her skin, eats, and smokes affects her baby. Weed is one substance that can potentially impact a developing baby’s health.
What is weed?
Weed (also known as marijuana, pot, or bud) is the dried portion of the Cannabis sativa plant. People smoke or eat weed for its effects on the body. It can cause euphoria, relaxation, and enhanced sensory perception. In most states, recreational use is illegal.
Weed’s active compound is delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). This compound can cross a mother’s placenta to get to her baby during pregnancy.
But weed’s effects during pregnancy can be difficult to determine. This is because many women who smoke or eat weed also use substances like alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs. As a result, it’s tough to say which is causing a problem.
What’s the prevalence of weed use in pregnancy?
Weed is the most commonly used illicit drug during pregnancy. Studies have tried to estimate the exact number of pregnant women who use weed, but results vary.
According to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), 2 to 5 percent of women use weed during pregnancy. This number goes up for certain groups of women. For example, young, urban, and socioeconomically disadvantaged women report higher rates of use that reach up to 28 percent.
What are the potential effects of using weed while pregnant?
Doctors have linked weed use during pregnancy with increased risk for complications. These may include:
- low birth weight
- premature birth
- small head circumference
- small length
What are the potential effects of using weed after a baby is born?
Researchers mostly study the effects of weed use during pregnancy on animals. Experts say exposure to THC can affect a baby’s brain developmentTrusted Source.
Babies born to mothers who smoke weed during pregnancy don’t have serious signs of withdrawal. However, other changes may be noted.
Research is ongoing, but a baby whose mother used weed during pregnancy may have problems as they get older. The research isn’t clear: Some older research reports no long-term developmental differences, but newer research is showing some problems for these children.
THC is considered a developmental neurotoxin by some. A child whose mother used weed during pregnancy may have trouble with memory, attention, controlling impulses, and school performance. More research is needed.