The Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada (SOGC) issued a warning to women about the potential dangers of using cannabis while pregnant or breastfeeding.
The SOGC pointed to evidence-based studies suggesting that the use of cannabis while pregnant or breastfeeding may result to potential growth and development issues among their babies. These issues include low birth weight, pre-term labor, impulsivity and hyperactivity in childhood, and low IQ scores.
The SOGC explained that the main psychoactive chemical component of cannabis called tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) crosses the placenta and penetrates into the fetal tissue and it can also accumulate in breast milk. THC can do so, whether cannabis is smoked, vaped, eaten, or smeared.
“In light of current research, our message is simple: do not use cannabis when you are pregnant or when you are breastfeeding, and talk to your doctor,” the SOGC stated.
The SOGC launched its public awareness campaign last month, on April 20, coinciding with the annual marijuana celebration and protest against prohibition.
Very recently, a new study conducted by the Colorado School of Public Health found that cannabis use during pregnancy was associated with a 50% increased likelihood of low birth weight. This sets the stage for future serious health problems that include infection and a baby’s stay at the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.
Another study published in American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology in 2015 showed that about 70% of pregnant women and non-pregnant women of reproductive age who were surveyed believed that there was zero or very little risk of harm resulting from marijuana consumption once or twice in a week.
Alberta doctors also warn against prenatal cannabis use
Meanwhile, doctors in Alberta are worried that the legalization of recreational cannabis might worsen the province’s problem on premature births and low-weight infants.
New data from the Canadian Institute for Health Information shows that, among all Canadian provinces, Alberta continues to have the highest rate of premature births. According to records, 8.7% of babies who were born in 2016 and 2017 have been delivered before reaching 37 weeks of gestation.
Dr. Duncan McCubbin, obstetrician at Medicine Hate in Alta, said that the “stubborn statistic” hardly budged despite medical professionals trying their best to improve maternal and infant health.
He added that the upcoming legalization of recreational cannabis is considered safe and may lead to an increased number of women using it during pregnancy.
Dr. McCubbin said that he is very worried about the next generation of premature babies in Alberta and all babies in general that are going to come in the next few years.
Dr. McCubbin has been working on the issue of premature birth with the Alberta Medical Association for some time now. He said that the high smoking rate in the province is partially to blame for the problem.
Smoking tobacco, he explained, has been proven to make the placenta smaller and prematurely ages it. The placenta, which is the organ that delivers the much-needed nutrients to the fetus, gets plugged up like a filter and fetuses that do not have a good placenta do not grow and come out smaller than they are supposed to be.
Dr. McCubbin added that it stands to reason that smoking weed could cause a similar problem. However, the root issue is that nobody knows whether cannabis is safe or if there is any benefit to pregnant women.
At issue is the fact that research on the effects and the medical safety of marijuana consumption for pregnant women and babies has not met the “gold standard” of randomized studies. Plus, ethically speaking, Dr. McCubbin said that such tests are difficult to run without the risk of causing harm to participants and their infants.