Marijuana Causes Complications for Pregnant Women and Their Babies

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As cannabis use (for both medicinal and recreational purposes) becomes more popular, it’s important for women and healthcare professionals to know the risks during pregnancy.

primary care, family medicine, internal medicine, pediatrics, hospital medicine, emergency medicine, pain management, OBGYN, women’s health, addiction medicine, pregnancy, cannabis, marijuana, anemia, emergency room, ICU

As cannabis use (for both medicinal and recreational purposes) becomes more popular, it’s important for women and healthcare professionals to know the risks during pregnancy.

The benefits and shortcomings of medical marijuana have long been debated. Although definite answers are few and far between, researchers continue to identify links between marijuana use and health effects. The latest development by a team from the University of Arizona indicates that cannabis use during pregnancy is associated with various complications, including low birthweight and need for intensive care.

The team reviewed seven databases consisting of seven studies which focused on health outcomes in mothers who use cannabis and their children. The analysis took place from inception to April 2014.

Multiple harmful outcomes were recorded from marijuana use during pregnancy. For one, women who used cannabis while pregnant were 36% more likely to have anemia, or lack of healthy red blood cells in the blood, when compared to those who didn’t use the drug. These women were twice as likely to be admitted to the intensive care unit as well as 77% more likely to give birth to an underweight infant.

  • Related: Migraine in Pregnant Women May Predict Birth Complications

It was noted that only one of six studies assessing anemia discovered an increased risk of anemia in marijuana users when compared to women who weren’t users.

“However, with a sample size of 8,350, this study had the largest sample size of all the studies in this review, and accounted for the greatest weight in the meta-analysis,” the authors affirmed in BMJ Open.

The findings indicated that marijuana can potential hurt not only the mother, but also the child while he or she is in the womb. Needless to say, this is not a link to ignore. The researchers mentioned, however, that they were unable to gather data on alcohol and other drug use — which could have contributed to outcomes.

“As use of cannabis gains social acceptance, pregnant women and their medical providers could benefit from health education on potential adverse effects of use of cannabis during pregnancy,” the team concluded.

Also on MD Magazine >>> Medical Marijuana Reduces Opioid Use for Chronic Pain

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