Cannabis consumption while pregnant will always be a heated debate. Currently, with little research supporting one side of the debate or the other — that cannabis consumption is either safe or unsafe for a baby while the mother is pregnant — it’s hard to draw any conclusions or recommendations for pregnant women who would consider using the plant medicinally.
Nonetheless, more research is slowly coming out. According to a new literature review from Pharmacology and Therapeutics, if a pregnant mother consumes THC, the compound will affect her more greatly than it will the baby. That said, the review also stated that exposure to THC could have an effect on the child’s cognition and psychology later on in life.
“THC readily crosses the placenta although fetal exposures appear lower than maternal exposures,” the literature review stated. “Prenatal exposure to THC may lead to subtle, persistent changes in targeted aspects of higher-level cognition and psychological well-being.”
Cannabis consumption while pregnant is not just an issue for the developing fetus, but could have ramifications for the baby well into childhood and even adulthood. It’s unclear how THC, the main psychoactive compound in cannabis, will affect the development of the child’s brain in utero and after birth.
“There is an urgent need for well-controlled studies in humans and preclinical models on THC as a developmental neurotoxicant,” the review authors wrote. “Until more information is available, pregnant women should not assume that using cannabis during pregnancy is safe.”
To avoid the potential drawbacks of THC on a fetus, some mothers have opted only to take CBD, a prominent non-psychotropic compound in cannabis. CBD is useful for pain, inflammation, and anxiety — which all may affect a pregnant mother. One study from the Journal of the Society for Reproduction and Fertility found that CBD could help reduce uterine contractions, though another found that the CBD could make the placenta more permeable, and hence vulnerable to outside harms. However, because CBD does not have an acute psychoactive effect — in fact, it’s a known neuroprotectant and could counter the psychoactive effects of THC — the impact on the child’s psychology and cognition might be lesser with CBD instead of THC.