Pot-smoking pregnant or breastfeeding mothers have been warned that they could be harming their babies.The alarm bell has been raised by Lauren Jansson who is an associate professor of paediatrics at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.
Jansson points out that the high-making THC compound found in marijuana travels into the bloodstream and then settles into breastmilk. Breastmilk is full of fat and that is something that THC just loves attaching itself to. The THC then acts as a trigger to the cannabinoid receptors in the baby’s brain, posing potential threats to the infant’s development.
Pregnant women who smoke marijuana can harm the fetal growth and neuro-development of their unborn infants. Research into in-utero fetus exposure to cannabis has found issues with executive functioning, which is the part of the brain that controls organizing and planning, as well as other negative behavioral effects.
Pot-smoking breastfeeding mothers are exposing their babies to motor development impairment problems which will only manifest after the age of one year.
More pregnant women are smoking pot
Statistics reveal that the number of pregnant women who smoke pot increased from 2.4 percent to 3.9 percent from 2002 to 2014. While these figures in themselves may not seem alarming, it should be noted that this data was obtained voluntarily so, in reality, the number of mothers who smoke weed must be substantially higher.
What concerns Jansson is the fact that pregnant mothers who smoke weed are unlikely to stop their habit after giving birth, or will return to this recreational pastime after their babies are born. Jansson, who specializes in research on drug abuse, says these women may actually have a dependency problem because on in five women who smoke weed while pregnant have a “cannabis-use disorder” which can lead to distress or impairment. Jansson says this, in turn, can be associated with psychiatric issues which could compromise the wellbeing of the infant if the mother loses her ability to take proper care of her baby.
Another cause for concern is that most of the studies related to pot and pregnant or breastfeeding women were undertaken in the 1980’s when marijuana was far less potent than the strains available on today’s market. This, according to the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology,indicates that fetal and neuro-development in infants could be far more serious than stated in earlier research programs.
Mothers cannot “pump and dump”
Jansson says mothers who use pot on a regular basis cannot “pump and dump” after smoking weed because the compounds can remain in the bloodstream for up to two months. She also expresses concerns about a mother breathing on her baby after smoking weed because studies on animals have shown that this second-hand smoke affects the development of the infant.
There is no evidence of anything good happening in a pot-smoking mother/baby environment but rather that there is evidence of bad things happening, says Jansson, who has personally witnessed the significant effects on early infant development.
Jansson dismisses the anecdotal comments made by women who state that smoking weed makes them better mothers. No one, she says, is a better mother if they use cannabis “in the face of significant consequences.”
Jansson believes that the more lenient approach to pot-use is the result of research that has found marijuana to have the ability to treat a number of medical ailments and serious illnesses. Legalization has also spurred weed’s acceptance as a safe substance that alleviates stress. But the chronic use of marijuana translates into a substance disorder and Jansson urges pregnant and breastfeeding mothers who smoke pot to seek medical help.
Her viewpoint is supported by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists who have called on its members to discourage their patients from using cannabis.