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Can Smoking Weed While Pregnant Cause Autism

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National Birth Defects Awareness Month

Discover What Can Happen When You Smoke While Pregnant

Serious consequences can develop as a result of smoking marijuana while pregnant.

According to the CDC, the National Birth Defects Awareness and Prevention Month of January 2014 focused on how common, costly, and critical birth defects are in the United States. While marijuana is one of the more commonly used recreational drugs, there is a limited amount known about its full effects on the mother and child in the situation of pregnancy. However, while marijuana may not have as many adverse effects on adults as other drugs like crystal meth and heroin do, it still can cause addiction, dependence, thinking and memory problems, and lung problems when smoked heavily every day.

Adopting healthy habits is always beneficial to pregnant women and their unborn children, but some women may not know they are pregnant until some time after the fact. What does this mean for marijuana smokers who may become pregnant? And what are the potential risks involved in smoking during pregnancy?

Breastfeeding And Marijuana Use

It has been proven that THC, the main ingredient in marijuana that causes its effects, can be passed from a mother to a child through breastfeeding, as a mother who smokes marijuana will have the chemical present in her breast milk. While there arent many studies on this fact, there is some evidence of the association between marijuana use in mothers who breastfeed and motor development in their children .

Does Using Marijuana Affect Breastfeeding

  • Chemicals from marijuana can be passed to your baby through breast milk. THC is stored in fat and is slowly released over time, meaning your baby could still be exposed even after you stop using marijuana.
  • However, data on the effects of marijuana exposure to your baby through breastfeeding are limited and conflicting. To limit potential risk to the infant, breastfeeding mothers should avoid marijuana use.11, 1416

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Growing Number Of Pregnant Women Using Marijuana

We know that cannabinoids can cross placental tissue and enter the fetal bloodstream, Corsi said. There are cannabinoid receptors present in the developing fetus and exposure to cannabis may impact the wiring of the developing brain.

While its known that substance use in pregnant women can affect a fetuss neurodevelopment, the question of whether cannabis use is a risk factor for autism has not been thoroughly investigated, Daniele Fallin, director of the Wendy Klag Center for Autism and Developmental Disabilities at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, said in an email.

Fallin, who was not involved with the new research, said that the observational study cannot prove that cannabis use by pregnant women causes autism. This is an interesting first step, but much more work is needed to implicate maternal cannabis use specifically in autism risk, she added.

To take a closer look at possible neurodevelopmental impacts of cannabis on developing fetuses, Corsi and his colleagues reviewed data from all Ontario births that occurred from 2007 to 2012, which was before the drug was legalized in Canada. Their final analysis included 503,065 children, 3,148 of whom had mothers who used cannabis while pregnant.

When the researchers accounted for factors that might skew their results, they found that the risk of autism was increased by 50 percent when mothers used cannabis during pregnancy.

Can Autism Be Caused By Meth Or Second

Smoking during pregnancy

No. There is no link between methamphetamine use or methamphetamine smoke and ASD.However, babies exposed to meth in the womb are nearly three times more likely to have cognitive problems . Also, children exposed to meth smoke are usually in dangerous living situations including witnessing or experiencing physical abuse. .

Consequences of Exposure to Meth in the Womb and During Childhood

Noticed At Birth
Deficits in attention, memory and motivation Anxious/depressed symptoms Aggression

Reading this may be difficult if youve used meth or been around meth smoke while pregnant, but you still have a choice to get help now. Its not too late! You and your baby deserve peace and happiness.

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What Should I Do If I Cant Stop Using Drugs Or Alcohol During Or After Pregnancy

Youre reading this because you know that your life, your childs future and your relationship with your child is in danger right now.

You know you need to get help.

Now, its time to reach out.

JourneyPure treats hundreds of pregnant women and new moms ever year at our locations in Tennessee and Kentucky. But, even if its not here, get help. . doctors follow rigorous sourcing guidelines and cite only trustworthy sources of information, including peer-reviewed journals, count records, academic organizations, highly regarded nonprofit organizations, government reports and their own expertise with decades in the fields and their own personal recovery.

Cannabis And Autism Explained

by Peter Hess / 7 September 2020
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Over the past decade, autistic people and their families have increasingly experimented with medical marijuana and products derived from it. Many hope these compounds will alleviate a range of autism-related traits and problems. But scientists are still in the early stages of rigorous research into marijuanas safety and effectiveness, which means that people who pursue it as treatment must rely mostly on anecdotal information from friends and message boards for guidance.

Here we explain what researchers know about the safety and effectiveness of cannabis for autism and related conditions.

What is medical marijuana?Medical marijuana generally refers to any product derived from cannabis plants including dried flowers, resins and oils that has been recommended by a doctor. It may be consumed directly or infused into an array of foods, lozenges and candies. These products have become popular among autistic people and their families for treating a broad swath of conditions, including insomnia, epilepsy and chronic pain.

Is medical marijuana legal?Yes and no. Federal law in the United States classifies marijuana and its derivatives as Schedule 1 drugs, meaning that they have no accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse. Schedule 1 drugs are illegal, and research on them requires labs to follow strict security protocols and adhere to regular facility inspections.


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Do Certain Medications Cause Autism

The only medications known to increase the risk of ASD are used for epilepsy or as a muscle relaxer in anesthesia. For example, the anti-seizure drug valproate increases the risk of autism from 1.9% to 4.4%.

Previous research suggested antidepressant and antipsychotic medications may increase risk, but the latest studies disprove this connection. Its the severity of underlying mental health issues, not the medications, that increases the risk of ASD.

Please try not to worry if you have a mental health issue. The overwhelming majority of mothers even with severe mental health diagnosis do not have babies with ASD.

What is important now is stopping any drug or alcohol use that may be associated and talking to your doctor about medication, which may be harmful to the fetus even though it doesnt increase the risk of ASD.

Does Cannabis Cause Autism

Will smoking marijuana affect a woman’s ability to get pregnant?

Although the study offers some pretty startling results, there is not enough evidence to suggest that cannabis is a direct cause of autism. Furthermore, the study has a few limitations that needs to be considered.

Firstly, self-reporting risks bias and is not a reliable source of data. There is a further risk of under-reporting or giving false information. This may be the case in those who want to avoid potential involvement of child-protective services or negative judgement.

Secondly, the data that was given from BORN did not indicate the frequency, trimester, or duration of cannabis use. Therefore, making it impossible to know the severity of cannabis use or whether or not frequency decreased throughout the pregnancy. This also questions what forms of administration were used and dosage levels of use.

Thirdly, the percentage of reported cannabis users was relatively small in comparison to the overall population. This can question the statistical significance of the result.

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Is Maternal Smoking Linking To Autism The Answer To This Controversial Question May Surprise You

Megan Hull is a content specialist who edits, writes and ideates content to help people find recovery. As a Florida born-and-raised… read more

Paula Holmes is a licensed clinical social worker, psychotherapist and freelance writer who lives and works in midcoast Maine. She… read more

No. Currently, there is no evidence to support a link between maternal smoking and autism.While maternal decision making during pregnancy can impact the future mental and physical health of their children, there does not seem to be a connection between maternal smoking and autism.

Past Studies On The Connection Between Smoking And Autism

There is no direct correlation between autism and exposure to cigarette smoke in utero. However, despite the lack of evidence that direct exposure can increase the risk of autism, there have been some studies linking maternal grandmothers pregnancy factors to an increased risk of having grandchildren with an autism spectrum disorder.

During a grandmothers pregnancy, her daughters ovaries are in development while in utero. These early studies suggest that there is an influence of genetic material during the mothers fetal development that may impact her future offspring. In this way, it seems to suggest that the maternal grandmothers smoking during pregnancy could influence the likelihood of a grandchild having autism, or at least increase the chance that they will develop autistic traits.

While these results are only preliminary and require additional verification, further research could help scientists better understand the influence of behaviors on genetic material across the generations.

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Low Birth Weights And Marijuana

Another issue often caused by premature birth is low birth weight. Though this problem can also be a product of other factors, low birth weight and premature birth are commonly linked, as well as is drug use during pregnancy with low birth weight. While mixed evidence has also been found for this issue when associated with marijuana abuse, there is still the potential that a pregnant woman who smokes marijuana might be more likely to give birth to a child with a low birth weight. There is also a higher potential that a pregnant woman who uses marijuana recreationally might use another potentially dangerous substance as well during pregnancy like alcohol or cocaine.

Premature Birth And Marijuana

Smoking During Pregnancy Can Cause Hearing Loss In Baby

As stated by the Colorado DPHE, We found mixed evidence that maternal use of marijuana during pregnancy is associated with preterm delivery. Similar issues have been found to be caused by cigarette smoking during pregnancy which also can be very harmful. While premature birth in itself is not a birth defect, it can lead to issues like vision and hearing problems, problems with feeding, and even breathing problems .

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The Nature Medicine Journal Has Published A Study That Suggests That Children Are At A 50% Greater Risk Of Developing Autism If Their Mothers Use Cannabis During Pregnancy

A recent Canadian study published in the journal Nature Medicine suggests that cannabis use during pregnancy may contribute to a 50% greater risk of the child developing autism.

The legalisation of cannabis in Canada has led the study’s co-authors to raise concerns on the safety of using cannabis during pregnancy and its effects of foetal development.

Epidemiologist and co-author of the study, Dr. Daniel Corsi, commented that the results indicate the need to rethink using cannabis during pregnancy. “The universal recommendation is no alcohol use in pregnancy and I think a similar recommendation should be made for no cannabis use in pregnancy,” says Dr. Corsi.

While the results are somewhat disturbing, they reflect a need for heightened awareness of the personal risk factors of cannabis use. This is important considering the national legalisation of the plant.

The effect of cannabis use on foetal development is an ongoing concern for researchers. From what we know from animal studies, cannabis can impact foetal development. There is, however, not enough clinical evidence to determine the safety parameters of cannabis use during pregnancy.

So, what did the study do and does cannabis actually cause autism?

Researchers Urge Caution Over Study Linking Marijuana To Autism


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Women who use while pregnant may be more likely to give birth to an autistic child, according to a study published last week in Nature Medicine1.

The findings generated widespread press coverage, but researchers are calling for a cautious interpretation of the results in part because the association surfaced through an analysis of birth records, not a controlled study.

This is still a database study and its not going to answer all the questions, says lead investigator Daniel Corsi, senior research associate at the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute in Canada. We dont have perfect data.

The findings are provocative, particularly given the large study size, says Stephen Sheinkopf, associate professor of psychiatry and human behavior at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, who was not involved in the work.

Women are increasingly using marijuana during pregnancy, especially as more states in the United States and other countries legalize its use2. The trend has raised questions about how the substance affects fetal development.

But scientists need to take care in communicating the new results, Sheinkopf says: These are going to be viewed not only by the public but also by policymakers.

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Does Paternal Drug Use Cause Autism

No. There is no current evidence linking a fathers drug or medication use prior conception to any increased risk of ASD.

However, paternal drug use can cause negative impacts. One study tested on rats links cocaine use at the time of conception with learning disabilities and memory loss, but only in sons .

More research on the impact of paternal drug use is needed, especially since a fathers age is known to increase the risk of ASD too.

However, if paternal drug use was the cause of ASD, researchers would have discovered that by now. The answer is just not that simple. Most cases of ASD do not involve paternal drug or medication use at all.

Can Drug Use Cause Autism

Marijuana Is it safe during pregnancy or breastfeeding?

There is no medication or illegal drug taken before or during pregnancy that in itself causes babies to be born with ASD.

Certain genes are likely required for ASD and are triggered by various environmental factors that raise the risk of developing ASD.

As an example of environmental factors, the risk of ASD is higher for children with older parents, as well as those with mothers in worse general health before pregnancy. In fact, a womans age and health seems to play a more critical role than the drugs she takes.

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Whats The Prevalence Of Weed Use In Pregnancy

Weed is the most commonly used illicit drug during pregnancy. Studies have tried to estimate the exact number of pregnant women who use weed, but results vary.

According to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists , 2 to 5 percent of women use weed during pregnancy. This number goes up for certain groups of women. For example, young, urban, and socioeconomically disadvantaged women report higher rates of use that reach up to 28 percent.

Can You Get Autism From Illegal Drugs

The highest correlation of ASD with drug use during pregnancy is cocaine. If cocaine is used during pregnancy, the likelihood for the baby to develop ASD increases from 1.9% to 11.4%.

  • While that is statistically a huge increase, almost 90% of mothers that used cocaine during pregnancy still did not have a child with ASD.

The most recent research shows no increase of risk of ASD with use or opioid use during pregnancy. .

Of course, illegal drugs used during pregnancy are harmful to the baby, even though they dont cause ASD. Many issues that arise from drug use during pregnancy have similar symptoms as ASD, such as speech delay or behavioral problems.

The consequences of drug use during pregnancy depend on:

  • Drug used
  • During what stage of the pregnancy the drug were used
  • General mental health of the mother
  • AndOther Ive heard of hundreds of stories where mothers used illegal drugs or abused prescriptions and the child developed without any issues

No amount of illegal drug or prescription abuse is safe for a developing baby. To change the course of your life and the life of your child, get help now. .

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How Much Alcohol Is Safe During Pregnancy

While friends may downplay the risks, citing cases of drinking that didnt lead to issues for the child, there is no known safe level of alcohol consumption during pregnancy.

  • If you cant go without occasional drinking, therapy will help you uncover why.
  • If you feel physically sick when you try to stop drinking, please seek medical detox at a facility like JourneyPure or at a hospital. Alcohol withdrawal can be deadly even without pregnancy complications.

Get help as soon as possible.

Cannabis Use May Pose Risks During Pregnancy

Does Marijuana Affect Your Fertility and Pregnancy ...

Increasingly studies suggest that cannabis use during pregnancy may pose health risks to pregnant women and developing fetuses.

A review article published in 2016 found that women who used cannabis at least once a week while pregnant were more likely to deliver prematurely and more likely to have babies with low birth weights.

However, the authors of that review article noted that women who use cannabis more frequently also tend to use more tobacco and other drugs, which might help account for their findings.

Some research has also linked cannabis use in pregnancy to long-term neurological effects in children.

For example, children of mothers who used cannabis while pregnant may be at increased risk of poor academic performance and behavioral challenges.

A study published in August 2020 reported that women who used cannabis during pregnancy were 1.5 times more likely to have a child with autism.

The study reviewed every birth in the Ontario region of Canada between 2007 and 2012 before Canada approved recreational cannabis use in 2017.

For its findings, it focused on 2,200 women who said they used only cannabis during pregnancy without mixing it with alcohol, tobacco, or opioids.

More research is needed to study the short- and long-term effects of cannabis use in pregnancy, including occasional and frequent cannabis use, according to experts.

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