A recent study suggests that smoking marijuana while pregnant doesn’t increase the risks of having a preterm birth or a baby with low weight, which scientists previously thought. However, researchers don’t encourage the use of the substance in pregnant women.
Marijuana has turned into a common subject in medicine and science. Thousands of studies have been made to understand the outcomes the substance could have on people, and with the legalization of the drug in several states, researchers want to know better its consequences.
The current research was focused on whether marijuana usage in pregnant women could mean a preterm birth, low baby weight or have harmful outcomes during birth and at first. Scientists found a link between weed and those consequences, but after adjusting the study they didn’t found negative results.
The study, published in the October edition of Obstetrics & Gynecology, was held by a team of researchers from the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. The team investigated information collected in 31 previous studies and gathered data about weed use among pregnant women.
Weed and birth
The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology informs that two percent and five percent of women confirm they have used marijuana while pregnant but not enough studies have proven if this use can affect their babies or complicate the birth.
The first problem with studies regarding pregnancy and weed is the fact that most researchers don’t realize the connection between smoking marijuana and regular cigarettes. In fact, previous studies have shown errors on calculating weed counter-effects without taking into account the ingestion of nicotine as well.
“One significant flaw with most studies looking at marijuana use in pregnancy is that researchers do not take into account that a large proportion of marijuana users also smoke tobacco,” said Tara Haelle health journalist for Forbes magazine.
Health experts have already calculated and informed about the consequences of smoking and ingesting nicotine while pregnant that include preterm birth and low baby weight as an outcome.
In the recent study, researchers analyzed over 7,800 cases of women ingesting marijuana during their nine months of pregnancy and 124,000 women who didn’t ingest weed during gestation.
At first, researchers found a strong link between marijuana use in pregnant women and having preterm births and low birth weight. Women who smoked weed while pregnant had 43 percent more chances of having a low-birth-weight baby and 32 percent to give birth before the due date.
However, researchers found that these women also had strong inclinations for accompanying marijuana with tobacco use, which could affect the data and the study’s outcomes.
As a result, the team adjusted the data analysis to women who only smoked marijuana without using tobacco and found no strong link between weed and the possible outcomes.
Since the data being used by researchers was from previous investigations, the team focused only on the data that could prove the use of marijuana trough urine tests and disregard self-reports.
In the end, the authors of the study found that pregnant women that used marijuana had no increased risk of the previously mentioned consequences, and they compared it to the 85 percent of possible outcomes on women that smoked tobacco while pregnant.
“When the authors go from the adjusted analyses to the further adjusted analyses, they have to reduce their sample size dramatically. Thus the negative findings of no increased risk of preterm birth or low birthweight could be because of inadequate study power,” said Aaron Caughey, who is the Chair of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Oregon’s Health & Science University.
The study does note that the team had limitations to perform the study, for example, they relied on previously gathered information and data. The authors also focused only on the consequences of birth and didn’t take into account the harms that babies could face when having THC in their system.
Authors also didn’t evaluate the long-term effects that could harm a baby affected with THC. Researchers note that more evaluations regarding the neurological effects of smoking marijuana while pregnant.
As a final comment, the study authors pledge not to use any harming substance while pregnant, including alcohol, tobacco, and marijuana until more information on the last substance is made.
The recent legalization of the substance in the vast majority of U.S states has started a wave of science research to understand the drug better. However, states that have legalized weed for medical and recreational use ban entirely the use of the drug while pregnant.
In fact, Colorado has a law that if physicians find traces of THC on a newborn’s body, the child’s situation will be notified of the protective services for further investigations.