medical testimonies database contains 1 testimony from cannabis users with menstrual cramps, morning sickness and labour pain
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little scientific research has been done on the subject of treating menstrual
cramps, morning sickness and labour pain with cannabis. The analgesic and anti-emetic
effects of cannabis discussed elsewhere show at least a potential in solving some
of the problems women experience as a result of these problems. The evidence in
this section will therefore dwell on the issue of the safety of taking cannabis
whilst pregnant. This should not be taken to indicate that other research on this
matter is important, it simply has not been done yet. If cannabis is found to
have any negative effect on unborn babies then it is a case of deciding whether
or not it outweighs any benefits it may bring. In addition, the following research
is only relevant to those patients who are pregnant. Evidently women suffering
menstrual problems whilst not pregnant need not consider the effects on unborn
et al (1995) reviewed existing studies on the subject of taking cannabis whilst
pregnant and found that several of the results were inconsistent. They did find
suggestions that the gestation period was shorter in cannabis-smoking mothers,
but only in those in their adolescence. Studies by Fried (1982) and Hingson et
al (1982) showed that women who smoked cannabis regularly whilst pregnant tended
to have babies of a lower weight than those who did not. As mentioned above however,
how much of this is actually due to cannabis compared to the effects caused by
general smoking is unknown.
et al (1989) performed a similar study and found that offspring from mothers who
smoked cannabis whilst pregnant weighed on average 3.4 ounces less than the control
group's babies. However there was no difference in the gestation period, nor in
the amount of congenital abnormalities.
et al (1998) found that mothers who smoked cannabis during pregnancy produced
babies with higher mutation rates than those of non-smokers. This is a very similar
finding to their 1994 study on mutations in tobacco-smoking mothers, so yet again
it is hard to distinguish the effects of cannabis from the effects of general
of the few studies not involving the smoking of cannabis, but rather focusing
on its traditional preparation in tea form was done by Dreher et al (1994). There
were no differences in neurobehaviour assessments made between babies birthed
by cannabis ingesting mothers and non-cannabis ingesting mothers.
(1995) carried out a relatively long-term experiment which measured the cognitive
ability of children born to mothers who smoked cannabis during pregnancy compared
to a control group of mothers who did not. The population was split into those
born to mothers who smoked heavily, moderately and not at all during pregnancy.
There were found to be no differences in 'intelligence' (tested in terms of measures
such as language development, reading ability, visual and perceptual tests). Initially
some small deficits were noticed among children born to cannabis smoking mothers,
but by the time the child was 5 years old the deficits had vanished. On the other
hand, another study by Fried et al (1998) found that children of mothers who smoked
cannabis during pregnancy who were between 9 and 12 years old had reduced ability
in terms of 'executive functioning' - involving concepts such as planning and
World Health Organisation found no evidence that cannabis causes any chromosomal
or genetic damage. Likewise, the NHS National Teratology Information Service finds
no evidence 'to suggest either an increase in the overall malformation rate or
any specific pattern of malformations [following marijuana use in pregnancy]'.
et al (1982) found a greater difference in the duration of labour in mothers who
used cannabis than those who did not. However, in another study, Fried et al (1983)
found no difference between heavy, medium and non-users of cannabis in regard
to several neonatal outcomes. As is common with many of these studies, recognition
should be taken that the study population was too small to provide definite answers
in clinical practice.
larger study by Braunstein et al (1983) found that cannabis users did produce
babies of lower weight and with a greater chance of malformations.
is evident, much of this evidence seems contradictory. It is hard to draw conclusions
as to the effects cannabis use has on unborn babies. There seems little evidence
that there is any association between cannabis use during pregnancy and any abnormalities
in the resulting child. However, it is likely that smoking anything (cannabis,
tobacco, parsley, bananas, daffodils...) can cause harm to unborn children. Thus,
if the medicinal properties of cannabis are to be used as an aid to pregnant mothers
a method of administration other than smoking should be used.
MM, Berenson AB, Babiak AK, Singleton CR, Whorton Jr EB. (1998) Frequencies of
hprt mutant Iymphocytes in marijuana-smoking mothers and their newborns. Mutation
MM, Berenson NJ, Stiglich EB, Whorton Jr EB, Ward Jr JB. (1994) Elevated frequencies
of hprt mutant Iymphocytes in cigarette-smoking mothers and their newborns. Mutation
G.D., Buster, J.E., Soares, J.R., and Gross, S.J. (1983) Pregnancy hormone concentrations
in marijuana users. Life Sci. 33: 195-199.
MD, Taylor PM, Geva D, Day NL. (1995) Prenatal tobacco and marijuana use among
adolescents: Effects on offspring gestational age, growth, and morphology. Pediatrics
M.C., Nugent K., & Hudgins R. (1994) Prenatal Marijuana Exposure and Neonatal
Outcomes in Jamaica: An Ethnographic Study. Pediatrics 93 (2) 254-260.
PA. (1982). Marihuana use by pregnant women and effects on offspring: An update.
Neurobehavioral Toxicology and Teratology 4:451 -454.
P.A., Buckingham, M., and Von Kulmiz, P. (1983) Marijuana use during pregnancy
and perinatal risk factors. Am. J. Obstet. Gynecol. 146: 992994.
P A. (1995) The Ottawa Prenatal Prospective Study (OPPS) Methological issues and
findings - it's easy to throw the baby out with the bath water. Life Sciences
PA, Watkinson B. Gray R. (1998) Differential effects on Cognitive Functioning
in 9- to 12-year olds prenatally exposed to cigarettes and marihuana. Neurotoxicology
and Teratology 20:293-306.
S., Staisch, K.J., Brown, N., and Gross, S.J. (1982) The effects of marijuana
use during pregnancy. I. A preliminary epidemiologic study. Am. J. Obstet.
R. Alpert JJ, Day N. Dooling E, Kayn H. Morelock S. Oppenheimer E, Zuckerman B.
(1982) Effects of maternal drinking and marihuana use on fetal growth and development.
Szeto H.H., Wu D.L., Decena J.A., & Cheng Y. (1991) Effects of single and
repeated marijuana smoke exposure on fetal EEG. Pharmacology, Biochemistry
& Behavior 40 (1) 97-101.
B. Frank DA, Hingson R. Amaro H. Levenson S. Kayne J. Parker S. Vinci R. Aboagye
K, Fried L, Cabral J. Timperi R. Bauchner H. (1989) Effects of maternal marijuana
and cocaine use on fetal growth. New England Journal of Medicine 320:762-768.
Zuckerman B. & Bresnahan K. (1991) Developmental and behavioral consequences
of prenatal drug and alcohol exposure. Pediatric Clinics of North America 38
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