Marijuana’s Effect on the Developing Brain and Pregnancy
Last Updated: Friday November 5, 2021
Though marijuana laws are changing in states across the nation, the fact remains that using the drug still poses serious risks – especially for young people and pregnant women.
Not too long ago, U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams put out a message to the public highlighting those risks.
When it comes to marijuana use during pregnancy, his office gave the following facts:
- THC (the marijuana compound that causes the user to get high) can enter the fetal brain from the mother’s bloodstream.
- It may disrupt the endocannabinoid system, which is important for a healthy pregnancy and fetal brain development.
- Studies have shown that marijuana use in pregnancy is associated with adverse outcomes, including lower birth weight.
- The Colorado Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System reported that maternal marijuana use was associated with a 50% increased risk of low birth weight regardless of maternal age, race, ethnicity, education, and tobacco use.
The advisory also warns that frequent youth marijuana use:
- Changes in the areas of the brain involved in attention, memory, decision-making, and motivation. Deficits in attention and memory have been detected in marijuana-using teens even after a month of abstinence.
- Impaired learning in adolescents. Chronic use is linked to declines in IQ, school performance that jeopardizes professional and social achievements, and life satisfaction.
- Increased rates of school absence and drop-out, as well as suicide attempts.
Watch the video below of the Surgeon General answering questions about marijuana.