(DTN) As the US Surgeon General declared recently that the harms of cannabis on unborn infants are settled science, researchers at the University of Washington School of Medicine are currently conducting research to figure out if that’s true. Funded with a $200,000. grant from the National Institute for Drug Abuse, the research project called “Moms + Marijuana” is now taking a close look at marijuana use exclusively among pregnant women who don’t smoke cigarettes, drink alcohol or use other drugs. Just Moms and marijuana.
“The very few investigations that have studied prenatal cannabis exposure and infant brain development have all involved women who are poly-substance drug abusers,” said Dr. Natalia Kleinhans, the study’s lead researcher. “This study is targeting a very specific population of women who are using marijuana to manage their symptoms while they’re pregnant.”
The question seems to be more timely than ever. According to recent government research, pot use while pregnant has doubled among U.S. women in recent years, and cannabis is most commonly used during the first trimester. In 2016-17 an overall 7 percent of pregnant women said they used marijuana in the past month. In a similar poll taken in 2002-03 that figure was only 3 percent. The uptick has sparked fresh debate over the age-old question of pot and pregnancy. The U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams recently clocked in and warned pregnant women to stay away from pot. “No amount of marijuana use during pregnancy is known to be safe,” he said flatly. But Dr. Kleinhans disagreed. “There’s little research to back up the medical and public health advice they’re getting,” she said in a news release when “Moms + Marijuana” was announced last year. “No one has looked at marijuana use exclusively.”
Dr. Kleinhans’ study will measure fetal brain growth throughout pregnancy in the womb and for six months following birth. It may take some time before the final conclusions come in, but the age-old debate about pot and pregnancy will surely continue long after the answer arrives.