Effects of Marijuana

marijuana

Marijuana: Effects on the Mother

Prolonged use may lead to apathy, lack of energy, lack of desire to work or be productive, diminished concentration, poor personal hygiene, preoccupation with marijuana – the amotivational syndrome

Effects on the fetus

Marijuana can easily cross into the placenta, and causes increased levels of carbon monoxide in the mother’s blood, reducing the level of oxygen to the fetus.

With more states legalizing the sale of Marijuana, there are more users. Those that smoke or exposure to the smoke from their significant others who smoke, Need to be aware of the effect on the unborn fetus.

Issues

One issue with Marijuana use, is that often it has other street drugs combined with the plant itself. Or additional THC is added to compound the effects. These two, and other contaminants can create the issues that will be discussed regarding the development of the fetus, and the later development of the fetus through early childhood.

There have been few definitive studies conducted on humans as to the effects of Marijuana on the fetus. “A new study in animals suggests that children who are exposed to marijuana in the womb may suffer from a variety of long-term problems even if they aren’t born with obvious birth defects.”

One of the components of Marijuana, that the researchers call WIN, has shown an effect in studies conducted on lab rats. Although, not causing birth defects, Marijuana does cause memory loss and inability to learn. “Researchers say they also found that WIN interfered with the release of a brain transmitter called glutamate, a key chemical associated with learning and memory processing.”

An Italian research team found that marijuana caused a disruption from “chemical and electrical processes in the brain during gestation (Bhattacharya)” in lab rats. The effects the study indicates, can be confounded by smoking, wealth, and urban living.

Even second-hand Marijuana smoke can affect the unborn fetus. It can cause your baby to be born premature, and have a lower birth weight, both are risks for the baby. Studies are few and far between, due to the risks involved on the fetus. “In the very few studies available, there appears to be an increase in the incidence of premature labor and low birthweight. In cases in which pot had been tainted with a stimulant (cocaine, for example), there was an increased risk for dangerously fast labors (less than three hours) and for placental abruption (separation of the placenta from the uterine wall)” states Dr. David Barrera.

Observation has shown that “…babies born to women who abused marijuana during their pregnancies display altered responses to visual stimuli, increased tremulousness (trembling or shaking), and a high-pitched cry — any of which may indicate neurological problems in development”. Later in the child’s development these children have a lack of problem-solving skills, and poor memory.

Based on a study conducted by University of Utah School of Medicine, Salt Lake City, and colleagues in the Eunice K. Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, babies born to smokers of Marijuana are two times more likely to have stillborn babies.

REFERENCES:

Bhattacharya, Shaoni. Marijuana use in pregnancy damages kids’ learning. 25 March 2003 http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn3543-marijuana-use-in-pregnancy-damages-kids-learning.html#.VQWPAeGgZ-8

Hackethal, Veronica MD. Smoking Pot May Double Risk for Stillbirth. http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/817503 Medscape Medical News. December 9, 2013

Herbert, Clare. I’m pregnant and my partner smokes weed. Will it affect our baby? http://www.babycentre.co.uk/x1043727/im-pregnant-and-my-partner-smokes-weed-will-it-affect-our-baby#ixzz3USuXGKAG November 2014

How could marijuana use affect your unborn baby? http://www.pregnancyandbaby.com/pregnancy/articles/937071/secondhand-toke-marijuana-pregnancy

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Caffeine, Tobacco, and Alcohol

Caffeine

Caffeinated beverages do not seem to cause birth defects or preterm labor and delivery in people…but there are other risks.  Such as: fetal growth retardation, miscarriage, and low birth weight.

Woman who drink more than 300mg of caffeine are at the highest risk.  That would be about three, five ounce cups. Those that both smoke and drink caffeine are at even a higher risk for babies with stunted growth.

Coffee (5 oz. cup) 60-180 mg
Tea (5 oz. steeped 4 minutes) 38-77 mg.
Cocoa (5 oz. cup) 2-20 mg.
Chocolate milk (8 oz.) 2-7 mg.
Cola drinks (Jolt, Mr. Pibb, Mountain Dew, etc.) 36-72 mg.
Non-prescription drugs (Excedrin, Anacin, etc.) 30-65 mg.
 

Tobacco

Cigarette smoke is full of chemicals. Many of these migrate to the sperm cells when they fertilize the ovum, and then continue to bombard the fetus when the mother smokes or is exposed to tobacco smoke.

Women who smoke are more likely to experience preeclampsia during pregnancy, preterm labor, premature rupture of the membranes, and premature delivery.  The baby born to a smoking woman tends to be lower in birth weight, and more likely to die soon after birth than those who do not smoke.

The damage to the baby can persist into later life. They are at more risk for cancer as an adult, susceptible to middle-ear infections, asthma, chronic bronchitis, and wheezing.

If raised in a household where smoking is allowed children are more likely to develop hypertension, as well as neurological and behavioral problems such as attention deficit disorder.  They also tend to score lower in intelligence tests later in life.

Men who smoke have a considerable higher risk of having children with birth defects and childhood cancer. This is probably due to the lowering of vitamin C levels in seminal fluids and sperm.  Not even the best of nutrition can make up for the damage done by smoking!

Alcohol

Alcohol freely enters the placenta and directly exposes the developing baby to its toxic effects.  It travels in the baby’s blood stream at the same concentration as that of the mother.  If mother is “buzzed”, so is the baby!

Some babies born develop a condition called “Fetal Alcohol Syndrome” or FAS.  They are shorter in length, lighter in weight, than other babies. They do not “catch up” eve with special postnatal care. They also have abnormally small heads, irregularity in their faces, limb abnormalities, heart defects, and poor coordination.  Many are mentally retarded and may develop behavioral problems as they grow up (such as hyperactivity).

No one knows how much alcohol it would take to damage a baby. Since it causes permanent physical and mental birth defects and no “safe” amount is known, the best bet is to abstain from alcohol.

Be aware of the alcohol in certain foods. Such as Irish Coffee, wine coolers, rum and fruit cakes, liquor-laced desserts, and cough medicines.