We all know that pregnancy brings with it a host of uncomfortable symptoms along the way, and you can't blame an expecting mother for going in search of something to relieve the discomfort. But pregnant women should not use cannabis to alleviate pain and nausea, according to recent studies.
To spread the word about the dangers of cannabis use during and after pregnancy, the Spokane Regional Health District recently announced its new "Weed to Know for Baby and You" program. The initiative comes after the SRHD realized that there was misinformation circulating about the risks of cannabis use for expecting mothers. The confusion is understandable, given the wealth of "I smoked weed while pregnant and everything is OK" testimonies found with a simple internet search.
"We hear all the time from mothers who feel they used marijuana 'successfully' in previous pregnancies, or know someone who did, but it is also likely the child is not old enough yet to exhibit the long-term health consequences," says Melissa Charbonneau, a public health nurse in the health district's Children and Youth with Special Health Care Needs program, in a statement.
"To be on the safe side, your best bet is to avoid marijuana altogether while you're expecting," Charbonneau adds.
The "Weed to Know" program points to a number of studies indicating that using marijuana while pregnant can lead to a number of health issues for a child. Among the issues are the potential of the baby being born prematurely and/or experiencing delayed brain development, resulting in a lower IQ, memory problems and attention issues. The program also warns against using cannabis while breastfeeding, pointing to studies that found an increased risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome among children whose mothers use cannabis. Using cannabis can also make it more difficult for a mother to build up her milk supply.
And while cannabis is legal in the state of Washington, there is nothing in our current laws that protects a mother using cannabis during pregnancy from repercussions from child protective agencies.
"Weed to Know for Baby and You" literature is available at the Health District, as well as many doctor's offices and other health care providers. It's also posted online at srhd.org/WeedToKnowBaby.asp. ♦