“Up in Smoke” (Cheech and Chong, 1978) may have floated the hazy notion that smoking marijuana was harmless fun, but new research shows that a woman’s chance for delivering a healthy baby is actually what goes up in smoke if she lets smoke into her brain and lungs while pregnant. Researchers from the University of Arizona looked at 24 studies of pregnancy and marijuana smoking: They discovered that pregnant women who smoke cannabis were more likely to be anemic and their babies more likely to end up in neonatal intensive care with low birth weight. Low birth weight is associated with intestinal and respiratory woes, brain bleeds, and heart and vision problems.
This study comes at the same time that researchers in Leipzig’s Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research discovered that tobacco smoking during pregnancy causes epigenetic disruption that dysregulates several genes at once and can trigger a roster of health problems for a newborn and throughout life. Plus, various studies indicate that cannabis smoke is almost as toxic as tobacco smoke and can reduce levels of the neurotransmitter dopamine, impairing memory and making it hard to stop smoking without feeling depressed.
These studies together should be more than enough to convince every young woman that if she smokes marijuana, tobacco or both, her dreams of a healthy baby may just go up in smoke.
Need help quitting tobacco? Check out the info at www.smokefree.gov. For help stopping marijuana use, go to www.findtreatment.samhsa.gov.
Mehmet Oz, M.D. is host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” and Mike Roizen, M.D. is Chief Wellness Officer and Chair of Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic. To live your healthiest, tune into “The Dr. Oz Show” or visit www.sharecare.com.