Babies born from mothers who used cannabis during pregnancy have lower birthweight and are in need for intensive care compared to babies born from mothers who never used the drug, according to a study published online in BMJ Open. It turns out that cannabis use is connected to making infants 77 percent more likely to be underweight and twice as likely to need intensive care.
Previous studies have linked cannabis use with psychosis, hepatitis, infective endocarditis and even traffic accidents. Now, it has been linked with these infant growth and development problems, prompting researchers to warn pregnant women of the drug’s possible harmful effects as it becomes increasingly popular.
According to the report, the research team looked into seven research databases for studies published up to 2014 on the effects of using cannabis during pregnancy of the mother and its effects on the baby until six weeks after the birth. The mother’s anaemia, a baby’s length, head circumference and weight, the requirement for intensive care and premature birth have all been taken into account.
Apart from the lower birthweight and requirement for intensive care observed, the researchers also found that mothers who used the drug were 36 percent more likely to suffer from anaemia compared to mothers who did not use it.
“There does appear to be negative consequences associated with in utero exposure to cannabis, including a decrease in birthweight and a need for placement in [intensive care],” the research team says.
However, the researchers admit that this is just an observational study and that they did not really investigate if the low birthweight and the need for intensive care actually resulted from cannabis use. Moreover, the team did not inquire whether their study’s respondents used other drugs or alcohol besides cannabis, both of which are known to result in low birthweight and early birth.
Nevertheless, the team says that their study suggests health education about the drug’s consequences on the mother and baby’s health is of utmost importance. Now that cannabis is increasingly being utilised for medical and social purposes, pregnant women are urged to know how cannabis will affect their pregnancy before using it carelessly.