As cannabis sales around the nation are increasing at a study rate, more usage rates are being released and becoming general information. In an interesting development, a recent statistic came out which reported that over 16% of pregnant women between the ages of 18 and 44 describe themselves as being regular marijuana users. This statistic has shocked many, as the general consensus for years has been that marijuana use could have debilitating neurological effects on developing infants. To test these claims, the University of Denver is conducting a study to see the effects of cannabis on pregnant mothers and developing fetuses. Colorado marijuana users will soon have a more concrete understanding of the do’s and don’ts of prenatal care.
The Study’s Purpose
After being asked by countless patients about smoking weed while pregnant, DU professor of psychology Pilyoung Kim realized something. Kim and a team of researchers have developed a study that will take an in-depth look at the effects of marijuana on both pregnant mothers and their fetuses, while in prenatal stages and after birth. Both mothers and infants will be subjected to MRIs in order to detect whether the usage of cannabis had negative effects on either maternal or infantile health. Specifically, the focus will be put on neurological effects, to see if brain development is inhibited by marijuana usage. The study will also utilize a control group of pregnant mothers who don’t use cannabis, for obvious reasons.
Why is This Study Needed?
When it comes to smoking cannabis while pregnant, most official health organizations have come out with an approach that resembles abstinence-only sex ed programs. Advice from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment is quite blunt: “There’s no known safe amount of marijuana use during pregnancy.” While seemingly a cut and dry situation, there’s no amount that is necessarily unsafe either – no one knows whether smoking weed is harmful to infant development, because at this point in history there have been no studies conducted on the matter.
This issue affects Colorado marijuana users in particular, as the drug’s legality makes it that much more accessible to normal people. Pregnant mothers report using cannabis to quell unpleasant pregnancy symptoms, such as nausea, morning sickness, and a tattered sleep schedule. If marijuana is potentially harmful to infantile development, then the information should get out there. However, the info that is currently being laid out to expecting mothers is currently speculative at best. Therefore, many women would rather just appease their symptoms using cannabis, as there is no legitimate information available to tell them otherwise.
The study is expected to finish sometime in the next year, so Colorado marijuana users will have to wait till then to hear the verdict. In the meantime, those 16% of pregnant mothers will continue to partake in cannabis, in order to deal with their long list of symptoms. Additionally, many pregnant mothers use marijuana to deal with pre-existing conditions that aren’t related to pregnancy at all, such as anxiety and depression. If marijuana usage is found to have harmful effects on infant development, then mothers will have to find a number of ways to cope with their health conditions to replace cannabis. Until then, they’ll just have to wait and see.