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Good news for women who toke during pregnancy

Two new studies provide good news to women who consume cannabis during pregnancy. A study in California found that medical marijuana helps pregnant women with HG by significantly reducing nausea and vomiting, while Canadian researchers discounted any potential link between ADHD and maternal cannabis use.

Since then the emotional argument “what about the children” has been a major tool in the arsenal of hypothetical concerns to scare people about cannabis. Now we know: The answer is, “the children will be fine.”

This confirms the data of the study of the “Raj Commission” of 1892, the Jamaican studies of the 1970s, the Costa Rican study of 1980 and numerous studies since then. Details of recent studies follow.

Relief from nausea, vomiting from pregnancy

Survey respondents who admit to using cannabis to cope with symptoms of Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG) often say it is more effective than prescription medications in reducing severe nausea and vomiting.

A team of researchers affiliated with the University of California, Los Angeles and with the Hyperemesis Education and Research Foundation in Oregon studied 550 respondents who suffered from HG during their pregnancy. Among the respondents, 96 percent admitted to having used prescription anti-emetics; 14 percent reported using cannabis. The majority (71 percent) of those who admitted to using cannabis said they did so because prescription medications did not adequately manage their symptoms.

Of those who consumed cannabis, 82 percent reported relief of HG symptoms—a finding that is consistent with previous case reports and surveys. In comparison, only 60 percent reported getting relief from prescription antiemetics. Also, among patients who reported weight loss during pregnancy, 56 percent of those who used cannabis reported regaining some or all of it within two weeks of treatment, compared to 25 percent of the ‘prescription drug users.

The authors concluded: “This study adds to the growing literature supporting the antiemetic properties of cannabis and cannabinoid compounds, while also suggesting their potential to treat HG. … A minority of respondents in this survey stated that uses cannabis for HG; however, those who used cannabis or CBP [cannabis-based products] reported more frequent relief from HG symptoms compared to those who used prescription antiemetics. In addition, cannabis users were more likely to report weight gain within two weeks of treatment than those who used ondansetron, which is said to be the most effective prescription antiemetic for survey respondents.

“Cannabis products can be perceived as a more effective alternative, but more research is needed to understand their mechanism and safety… In the meantime, providers must weigh the unknown risks of recommending cannabis… with the well-established risk of adverse maternal and fetal outcomes for refractory HG”.

Full text of the study, “Patterns of use and self-reported efficacy of cannabis for Hyperemesis Gravidarum,” appears in the journal of the German Society of Gynecology and Obstetrics. Additional information is available in the NORML fact sheet, “Marijuana use and childhood outcomes.”

No link with ADHD in children

Prenatal exposure to cannabis is not associated with an increased risk of attention deficit disorders among children, according to data published in the journal. BMJ Open.

Canadian investigators evaluated the relationship between in utero exposure to marijuana and attention deficit with or without hyperactivity disorder in a cohort of 2,408 children.

Researchers reported “no significant association” between occasional or regular prenatal exposure to cannabis and ADHD after adjusting for potential confounders.

“In our study, we found no association between occasional or regular in utero exposure to cannabis and the risk of ADHD in children, as well as general exposure to cannabis and the risk of ADHD in children “, concluded the authors. “Most research that focuses on the timing of exposure during pregnancy (for example, the first, second, third trimester), as well as the use of different methods to quantify prenatal exposure to cannabis ( for example, biological samples), is necessary to better understand the impact of cannabis use during pregnancy and developmental outcomes in children.

Full text of the study, “In utero exposure to cannabis is associated with the risk of attention deficit with or without hyperactivity disorder? A cohort study in the Quebec Pregnancy Cohort”, appears in BMJ Open. Additional information is available from the NORML fact sheet, “Maternal marijuana use and childhood outcomes.”

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