In August, a study has been published that the use of cannabis, marijuana, in pregnancy could increase the risk of autism in the baby. We want to talk about this study, developed by the University of Ottawa, Canada, and others that have been carried out on cannabis use in pregnancy and lactation.
The important thing about this Canadian study is that it takes a very extensive sample of women who reported using cannabis during pregnancy. In Canada, recreational cannabis is legal. Perhaps this is one of the reasons why such a valuable study has been done.
Relationship between cannabis use and the neurological development of the baby
This meta-analysis of the relationship between cannabis use and neurological development of the baby determines that marijuana use in women during pregnancy: is associated with a higher frequency of anemia during pregnancy, a lower weight of the newbornand, therefore, more income in neonatal intensive care units.
But, although reviews of different studies have been made and other control data have been included, it cannot be determined that behavioral disorders, or neurological alterations of childrenare only due to their exposure to cannabis during their gestation. Since some data is contradictory to each other.
The effects of intrauterine exposure of cannabis on the behavior and neurocognitive development of newborns with respect to those not exposed to use are small. The analysis is difficult, so the conclusions cannot be interpreted as definitive.
Canadian study on cannabis use
Research published in the journal Nature Medicine, by scientists at the University of Ottawa analyzed all births registered in Ontario, over a period of 5 years. From April 2007 to March 2012. The clearest conclusion is that 4 out of 1000 children exposed to marijuana during pregnancy have been diagnosed with autism spectrum. The ratio falls to 2.42 for every 1000 that were not exposed. Therefore, scientists determine that marijuana use increases the risk of exposed children developing autism up to 1.51 times. This is an associative study, but not cause effect.
Other different studies have shown that there is no involvement in the baby’s global intelligence. They do show a tendency of decreased attention, visual memory, analysis and integration capacity. In addition to a tendency to hyperexcitability in adolescents who were exposed to cannabis in the intrauterine phase. Other studies showed no changes in intelligence or behavior.
On the other hand, the effects of cannabis use by mothers during pregnancy are less clear in terms of school performance.
Other research on cannabinoids
Prior to which we named, indicate that cannabis use during pregnancy is related to a increased risk of preterm birth. This may be because most women who use cannabis during pregnancy also use other substances, such as tobacco, alcohol and opioids.
One of the motivations that is spreading across Canada, since recreational cannabis use is legal, for mothers is that marijuana can be used to treat annoying morning sickness . Different experiences confirm this fact, leading pregnant women, with severe episodes of nausea to use cannabis. Consumption is usually done in a vaporized way. This prevents the damage of combustion, if it is smoked.
The reality is that cannabis use in pregnant and lactating women has not, until now, been analysed in depth. Researchers consider it very important that, as cannabinoids are further investigated and their consumption becomes more socially acceptable, the results are made public, so that women are better informed.