marijuana, cannabis, pot, children, childbirth, pregnancy

Child development and valid Marijuana Studies should dispel the fear and propaganda of the drug warriors and prohibitionists, if their goal is truth.

The results from this study show that babies born to marijuana smoking mothers are healthier than those born to their non-smoking peers.

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Prenatal Marijuana Exposure and Neonatal Outcomes in Jamaica: An Ethnographic Study



Although no positive or negative neurobehavioral effects of prenatal exposure were found at 3 days of life using the Brazelton examination, there were significant differences between the exposed and nonexposed neonates at the end of the first month.

Comparing the two groups, the neonates of mothers who used marijuana showed better physiological stability at 1 month and required less examiner facilitation to reach an organized state and become available for social stimulation. The results of the comparison of neonates of the heavy-marijuana-using mothers and those of the nonusing mothers were even more striking. The heavily exposed neonates were more socially responsive and were more autonomically stable at 30 days than their matched counterparts. The quality of their alertness was higher; their motor and autonomic systems were more robust; they were less irritable; they were less likely to demonstrate any imbalance of tone; they needed less examiner facilitation to become organized; they had better self-regulation; and were judged to be more rewarding for caregivers than the neonates of nonusing mothers at 1 month of age.


Marijuana Myths

Lynn Zimmer & Dr. John P. Morgan



Marijuana has been said to interfere with the production of hormones associated with reproduction, causing possible infertility among adult users and delayed sexual development among adolescents.


There is no evidence that marijuana impairs male reproductive functioning. The Jamaican and Costa Rican field studies detected no differences in hormone levels between marijuana users and non-users. In epidemiological surveys of marijuana users, no problems with fertility have emerged as important.

In 1974, researchers reported diminished testosterone, reduced sexual function and abnormal sperm cells in males identified as chronic marijuana users. In a laboratory study, the same researchers reported an acute decrease in testosterone, but no chronic effect after nine weeks of smoking; they did not evaluate sperm volume or quality. In other laboratory studies, researchers have been generally unable to replicate these findings although by administering very high THC doses-up to 20 cigarettes per day for 30 days- one study found a slight decrease in sperm concentrations. In all studies, test results remained within normal ranges and probably would not have affected actual fertility.

Severe adverse consequences have also been produced in male laboratory animals, although only with extremely high daily THC doses. More importantly, in both the human and animal laboratory studies, all observed changes were reversed once THC administration was halted.

The claim that marijuana impairs female reproductive functioning in humans has no support in the scientific literature. There have been no epidemiological studies indicating diminished fertility in female users of marijuana, and a recent survey found no impact of chronic marijuana use on female sex hormones.

Animal studies show hormonal changes and depressed ovulation following extremely high daily doses of THC. As occurs with males, these changes disappear once the experiment is completed. In addition, when THC was administered to female monkeys for an entire year, they developed tolerance to its hormonal effects and normal cycles were reestablished.

Almost immediately following publication of the few studies showing a marijuana impact on reproductive hormones, warnings about marijuana's potential impact on adolescent sexual development began to appear.

Other than one case report of a 16-year old marijuana smoker who had failed to progress to puberty, there has been nothing to indicate that such a potential exists. In whatever other ways one might consider marijuana to be bad for adolescents, it does not retard their sexual development.


A powerful accusation in anti-drug campaigns is that children are permanently harmed by their mothers' use of drugs during pregnancy. Today, it is commonly claimed that marijuana is a cause of birth defects and development deficits.


A number of studies reported low birth weight and physical abnormalities among babies exposed to marijuana in utero. However, when other factors known to affect pregnancy outcomes were controlled for-for example, maternal age, socio-economic class, and alcohol and tobacco use-the association between marijuana use and adverse fetal effects disappeared.

Numerous other studies have failed to find negative impacts from marijuana exposure. However, when negative outcomes are found, they tend to be widely publicized, regardless of the quality of the study.

It is now often claimed that marijuana use during pregnancy causes childhood leukemia. The basis for this claim is one study, in which 5% of the mothers of leukemic children admitted to using marijuana prior to or during pregnancy. A "control group" of mothers with normal children was then created and questioned by telephone about previous drug use. Their reported .5 percent marijuana use- rate was used to calculate a 10-fold greater risk of leukemia for children born to marijuana users. Given national surveys showing marijuana prevalence rates of at least 10%, these "control group" mothers almost certainly under-reported their drug use to strangers on the telephone.

Also used as evidence of marijuana-induced fetal harm are two longitudinal studies, in which the children of marijuana users were examined repeatedly.

However, on closer examination, the effects of marijuana appear to be quite minimal, if existent at all. After finding a slight deficit in visual responsiveness among marijuana-exposed newborns, no differences were found at 6 months, 12 months, 18 months, or 24 months. At age 3, the only difference (after controlling for confounding variables) was that children of "moderate" smokers had superior psycho-motor skills. At age 4, children of "heavy" marijuana users (averaging 18.7 joints/week) had lower scores on one subscale of one standardized test of verbal development. At age 6, these same children scored lower on one computerized task-that measuring "vigilance." On dozens of others scales and subscales, no differences were ever found.

In another study, standardized IQ tests were administered to marijuana-exposed and unexposed 3 year-olds. Researchers found no differences in the overall scores. However, by dividing the sample by race, they found-among African- American children only-lower scores on one subscale for those exposed during the first trimester and lower scores on a different subscale for those exposed during the second trimester.

Although it is sensible to advise pregnant women to abstain from using most drugs-including marijuana-the weight of scientific evidence indicates that marijuana has few adverse consequences for the developing human fetus.


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