A new study has found that smoking marijuana can affect fetal development as early as during the first trimester.
The leader of the study, Beth Bailey, professor of psychology and director of population health research at the College of Medicine at Central Michigan University in Mount Pleasant, says if pregnant, avoid using any form of cannabis product.
“That’s why these findings are especially important — people can often be well into the first trimester and don’t even know they are pregnant,” said lead author Beth Bailey,
“Our study drills down to look very specifically at a specific time point in pregnancy — the first trimester. We found a significant decrease in birth weight of 154 grams. In terms of pounds, it’s about a third of a pound,” she said.
“Low birth weight is one of the strongest predictors of a child’s health and development long-term,”
“These kids are more prone to developmental delays, higher rates of ADHD, learning disabilities, and have higher rates of emotional problems.” She added.
The study further notes that continued use of marijuana reduced the size of a baby’s head, and the weight in general drops. Smaller head circumference could be a sign the brain didn’t develop properly during pregnancy.
“Even when pregnant people stopped using marijuana by the third trimester, the babies were born with a smaller head circumference of about 1 centimeter (0.4 inch),” Bailey said.
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“What we are telling women is that it’s not an absolute certainty that your baby’s growth will be impacted if you are using marijuana. But we do know that you are at substantially higher risk for that outcome.”
Marijuana legalization has planted the idea that it must be safe since it’s legal, and so a lot of people continue to use it during pregnancy.
“Birth weight was just minimally impacted back then, and studies showed subtle developmental effects on children long-term,” Bailey said.
“However, what we’re seeing with legalization is that people are using it more heavily, and today we’ve got marijuana strains with stronger THC levels now that marijuana is commercially grown. We’re seeing large effects on the fetus in the last 10 years of research.”
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