LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Researchers from UNLV are warning against marijuana use during pregnancy. A study by the university’s School of Medicine reveals that daily marijuana use is associated with impaired fetal growth and increased placental vascular resistance.
“People sometimes think because it’s legal now or because it’s derived from a plant that it’s safe,” said Dr. Jordana Boneh, an assistant professor.
“We know that smoke exposure of any kind, including marijuana smoke, is harmful to infants. It increases the risk of sudden infant death syndrome. It can increase the risk of asthma and breathing problems for babies,” Boneh said. She is a pediatrician at a UNLV clinic and works with newborns at University Medical Center. She told the I-Team she has noticed an increase in babies exposed to marijuana.
“With marijuana, we don’t necessarily see the symptoms immediately when the baby is born. Some of these symptoms may not show up until the child is older: issues with learning, issues with intellectual development or school achievement,” Boneh told the I-Team.
“If I was concerned about the risk, I would not choose cannabis while pregnant,” said Jeanna Hoch. The Colorado woman spoke to the I-Team during her pregnancy. She said she was smoking marijuana at 31 weeks.
“I use a pipe most often,” Hoch said. She runs CannaMama Clinic, an online based service where mothers interested in marijuana and cannabis can connect with Hoch. Her Facebook page has more than 9,000 followers. Her Instagram page has more than 4,000.
“I think it still goes back to our choice, our ability to make the choices to choose one medicine as opposed to the other,” Hoch told the I-Team. She said she used marijuana during her first two pregnancies, her oldest child is 14, and she claimed both children are healthy. She told the I-Team some mothers are turning to marijuana for morning sickness, along with other more serious health issues. Hoch admits she has no medical training and points to her college studies in political science and work in the underground cannabis community before marijuana became legal in Colorado.
Vanessa Murphy, reporter: “What would you say to critics who say, ‘how can you offer medical advice when you don’t have a medical background?'”
Hoch: “I don’t offer medical advice. I mean, that’s why I say, for me, it’s a very big political issue, and I say I feel it’s the safer choice for me, and I can say what I’ve talked to other women about.”
There are few studies on marijuana use during pregnancy.
The UNLV study was published in The Journal of Maternal-Fetal & Neonatal Medicine. Researchers looked at 55 first trimester ultrasounds to compare women who were using marijuana daily versus women who were not. The researchers warn that pregnant women should not use marijuana until further studies delineate its exact potential for fetotoxicity.
In October, the FDA warned against marijuana and cannabis use by pregnant women. Despite legalization in several states, federal law does not recognize marijuana as a legal drug.
Hoch said she is facing an investigation by a child welfare agency because of her marijuana use, and it is a topic she advises other mothers about.
The I-Team reached out to Child Protective Services in Clark County to find out about any policy. A spokesman provided the following information:
“There is no such policy. We consider all allegations and information we have on a specific home or parent to determine whether a child will be safe there. Also, we will work with parents to help them address any issues that may affect their ability to provide a safe home for their child. These determinations are made on a case by case basis.”