Occasional cannabis use during pregnancy may be enough to reduce fetal growth.
- Cannabis use during the first trimester of pregnancy can lead to reduced baby weight.
- If exposure continues into the second trimester, the infant’s head circumference also decreases.
- Women should stop using cannabis before becoming pregnant.
More and more pregnant women are using cannabis for recreational purposes or to relieve certain symptoms, including nausea. “With legalization, there seems to be the idea that it’s safe because it’s legal, and so a lot of people continue to use it during pregnancy,” told the American media CNNBeth Bailey, Professor of Psychology and Director of Population Health Research at Central Michigan University in Mount Pleasant (USA).
In a recent study, the researcher and her team wanted to examine whether the timing of exposure to cannabis in utero had a negative impact on fetal growth and whether these effects were global or specific to certain growth parameters. For this, the scientists analyzed the medical records of 109 pregnant women using cannabis and having given birth in a clinic at Central Michigan’s College of Medicine. These data were compared with those of 171 people who did not use cannabis.
Pregnancy: Cannabis use reduces baby’s weight and head circumference
According to the results, published in the journal Frontiers in Pediatricsoccasional cannabis use can reduce fetal growth. “We show that even when cannabis use only occurs during the first trimester of pregnancy, birth weight is significantly reduced, by more than 150 g on average. If this exposure continued during the second trimester, the newborn’s head circumference also decreased significantly”explained Beth Bailey in a statement. “These findings are important because newborn size is one of the best predictors of a child’s later health and development.”added Phoebe Dodge, co-author of the work.
“Stop using cannabis before you get pregnant”
“The best recommendation is to advise women to stop using cannabis before they get pregnant,” said Phoebe Dodge. They should also be encouraged to stop consuming it as early as possible during pregnancy to avoid adverse effects on the health and development of the fetus. “Quitting has certain advantages for women who start their pregnancy using cannabis,” specified the researcher.
The authors point out that, in their study, they did not have information on the quantity of cannabis consumed by the participants, nor on the frequency of their consumption. Thus, they could not establish whether there was a link between heavy drinking and more pronounced newborn growth outcomes. More research is needed to determine whether it is the timing or the amount of cannabis consumed that is most important in terms of effects on baby size.