Doctors, patients debate pot smoking while pregnant

Doctors, patients debate pot smoking while pregnant

(WMC) - Nationwide, the debate over cannabis is smoking hot, but perhaps no hotter than around the subject of pot and pregnancy. According to a government survey, more than 3 percent of pregnant women admit to using cannabis while pregnant, and experts believe the number may be much higher.

Is it a matter of a mom's choice or child safety?

A mom, who wants to be identified as 'Jane,' sees it as a matter of choice. When she was pregnant with her son, she says the nausea was brutal.

"I would just eat a few almonds here and there; that was the only thing that I could keep down, almonds and seltzer water," Jane said.

She was losing weight and felt like she needed to do something. So, she figured she'd see if cannabis would help with her appetite.

"And as soon as I vaped the cannabis, instantly I was hungry and was able to hold down entire meals, and it was great."

Emily Earlenbaugh, Ph.D. holds a medical marijuana card for chronic pain. She is a cannabis consultant, and makes a living helping people weed through the controversy to help them decide whether the drug is right for them--even in pregnancy.

"I think using cannabis during pregnancy is a growing trend right now," she said. "It's important to look at the medical research and see, you know, is this a safe option relative to other medications that you might use in place of it or relative to using nothing at all?"

Safety is the question. We found numerous studies that examined cannabis and pregnancy. There is a lot of back and forth, with some studies showing a link between cannabis and adverse health effects, such as preterm birth and other studies not finding links.

Researchers from the National Institute on Drug Abuse reported the "evidence of the effects of marijuana on human prenatal development is limited," but says "there is cause for concern."

It links cannabis use to anemia in the mother, lower birth weight, and says infants are more likely to require placement in neonatal intensive care.

Dr. Earlenbaugh points out many of the studies don't account for other substances that may affect results.

"If you're already using, you know, tobacco, alcohol during pregnancy, you're more likely to also be using cannabis, and we really can't say whether those patients who are reporting cannabis use are not taking other substances at the same time."

While there may be debate, The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists is "…calling for ob-gyns to urge their patients who are pregnant or contemplating pregnancy to discontinue marijuana use."

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