Data, statistics, public policy research and other information related to pregnancy and substance use.

Prenatal Marijuana Exposure and Birth Defects

(Prenatal Marijuana Exposure and Birth Defects) "Marijuana has not been implicated as a human teratogen. No homogeneous pattern of malformation has been observed that could be considered characteristic of intrauterine marijuana exposure.6 Among 202 infants exposed to marijuana prenatally, the rate of serious malformations was no higher than the rate among infants whose mothers did not use marijuana."

Inadequate or Inconsistent Data

(Inadequate or Inconsistent Data) "Since marijuana crosses the placenta, it is reasonable to think that it may have a direct, adverse effect on the fetal brain or on fetal growth, but the small number of studies performed to date have failed to identify major birth defects or a consistent effect on neurobehavioral function. Results regarding the relationship of prenatal marijuana exposure to lowered birth weight are inconsistent."

Adverse Newborn Outcomes


(Adverse Newborn Outcomes) "Infants born to mothers who use opiates do not have birth defects due to the effects of the opiates, but do have impaired growth, smaller head size, and significant neurobehavioral dysfunction due to withdrawal. Women who use opiates usually use other illegal and legal drugs, are poorly nourished, and frequently have other health problems, all of which contribute to adverse newborn outcomes, especially poor growth and small head size."

Low Birth Weight Defined

(Low Birth Weight Defined) "An infant described as 'low birth weight' weighs less than 2500 grams at birth; a 'very low birth weight' infant weighs less than 1500 grams. Low birth weight is a major factor in infant mortality in the U.S. Infants weighing 2500 grams or less are almost 40 times more likely to die during their first 4 weeks of life than the normal birth weight infant. Low birth weight infants are 5 times more likely than normal birth weight infants to die later in the first year and account for 20% of postneonatal deaths.

Endocannabinoids and Neonatal Milk Suckling Response

(Endocannabinoids and Neonatal Milk Suckling Response) "Cannabinoids are known to enhance appetite by activating cannabinoid (CB1) receptors. This phenomenon is exploited to combat cachexia and loss of appetite in cancer and AIDS patients. The endocannabinoid 2-arachidonylglycerol (2-AG) is present in milk. Evidence is presented supporting a critical role for CB1 receptors in survival of mouse pups. Thus neonates do not gain weight and die within the first week of life when their receptors are blocked. This is due apparently, to an inability to ingest maternal milk.

Prenatal Marijuana Exposure and Cognitive Development

(Prenatal Marijuana Exposure and Cognitive Development) "The failure to find an association between prenatal marijuana exposure and a variety of cognitive outcomes persisted in the OPPS sample until the offspring were 4 years of age. At 2, although there was a negative association with language comprehension, this relationship did not retain significance when the home environment was statistically controlled (Fried and Watkinson 1988).

Multiple Determinants of Poor Birth Outcomes

(Multiple Determinants of Poor Birth Outcomes) "Recent research stresses the multiple determinants of poor birth outcomes, with important factors including maternal poverty, poor nutrition, homelessness, a history of domestic violence, and lack of prenatal care.17 Because it is difficult to untangle the complex causal relationships between maternal drug use and other contributors to poor birth outcomes, it is short-sighted to focus solely on drugs as the source of fetal and childhood harm."

Risk of Harm from Alcohol and Other Drug Use in Pregnance

(Risk of Harm from Alcohol and Other Drug Use in Pregnance) "The principal import of existing research is not that drug and alcohol use during pregnancy is 'safe,' but rather that no scientific or legal basis exists for concluding that exposure to these substances will inevitably cause harm or that the risks presented by use of these substances are any greater than those associated with many other conditions and activities common in the lives of all people, including pregnant women."