Researchers Will Study How Cannabis Use Impacts Pregnancy

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Movies and television shows like to use morning sickness from pregnancy as some sort of punchline. A pregnant female character may vomit unexpectedly as a means of obtaining a round of laughter from the audience. However, for many women, the experience of morning sickness is far from amusing. It can persist through all nine months of pregnancy in some cases and can even cause maternal weight loss, which isn’t necessarily the best thing for the unborn child either.

Women struggling with hyperemesis gravidarum or just really bad morning sickness may become desperate for relief. Some of them will drink teas or take other herbal remedies. Some will take anti-nausea medication from their doctor, even though certain anti-nausea drugs may have questionable side effects during pregnancy. Other women choose to use cannabis to treat their morning sickness. Women have likely been using cannabis to treat morning sickness for millennia, but there has at least been some research and anecdote publicly available from the women who have used cannabis to alleviate the symptoms of pregnancy in the 20th and 21st centuries who are willing to speak about it.

Both medical professionals and the state seem to have very strong opinions against cannabis use during pregnancy many. Because of the Schedule I status of cannabis, it is risky for women to admit its use during pregnancy, even if they have medical conditions or live in a state where it is now legal. The legal status of cannabis also affects the ability of medical professionals to truly study how it impacts unborn children.

However, there will soon be a study that explores how cannabis affects brain developments in unborn children when their mothers use it for morning sickness during pregnancy. Researchers at the University of Washington including Dr. Natalia Kleinhans will track the cannabis use of a number of women and compare their birth results and an MRI performed on the child at six months with the records of a separate control group.

The women in the cannabis group will be subject to random drug testing to ensure they don’t use any other substances that would impact the pregnancy or the study. This study is the first of its kind and could potentially pave the way for changing social policies. In many states, a mother who tests positive for cannabis, even if she uses it for severe morning sickness, could still face the potential loss of her child to the state as an unfit mother, despite the lack of reliable medical evidence that cannabis use alone during pregnancy has any kind of long-term effect on a child. It will be interesting to see what results the study produces, as well as how it may impact social policies in the future.

For previous Ladybud articles about pregnancy, click here.