Effects of Marijuana Use During Pregnancy

The most common recreational drug in our western society is marijuana. It is often at the center of controversy when it comes to legalization or decriminalization, polarizing people either for or against its use. The basis for the majority of the arguments revolves around the effects marijuana has on the human body, particularly the pregnant woman's body and that of her baby. The topics that generate the most concern when it comes to marijuana use include:

· effect upon fetal development

· role in miscarriage

· possibility of learning and behavioral problems in children whose mothers used marijuana during pregnancy

Marijuana continues to be an illegal substance in many countries and consequently, its use has raised a red flag in connection with prenatal exposure for both mother and child. Regardless whether it is legal or not, marijuana is statistically the most widely used recreational drug among pregnant women. Seek help from a drug rehab center, if needed, because this is a major health risk to the mother as well as the child.

What the Research on Marijuana Use by Pregnant Women May Indicate

Research into the effects of marijuana on unborn babies has been going on for decades and a number of studies, both old and new, emphasize that marijuana is a teratogen - a substance that can hamper normal growth and development of a baby in the womb. It is believed that marijuana chemicals cross into the placenta and consequently into the baby since the placenta is the nutritional source for the growing baby. Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and carbon monoxide, both components of marijuana, can impact various aspects of pregnancy, from conception through birth.

A study done by a group of embryologists in 2006 at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Tennessee, found that smoking marijuana increases the risk for failed uterine implantation. The marijuana has the capability of upsetting the chemical balance in the reproductive organs that allow for transmission of the embryo from the fallopian tubes into the uterus. The two possible outcomes are ectopic pregnancy or miscarriage.

A study done in 1982 at Yale University Medical School found that white women who regularly engaged in smoking marijuana were at increased risk for low birth weight babies and babies that were small for their gestational age. This study was corroborated by one done in 2005 found in the March-April 2005 issue of the journal Neurotoxicology and Teratology. That study found a positive correlation between maternal marijuana use and reduced fetal body weight and foot length.

Table of Contents
1. Marijuana Use
2. The debate
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