We are adopting the child of someone who used marijuana while she was pregnant what do we have to worry about?
In general doctors are not too crazy about the idea of pregnant ladies taking any drug when they are pregnant either legal or illegal unless it has been rigorously studied to have no harm to the developing child. The main active ingredient of marijuana, tetrahydrocannabinol, can cross the placenta and thus may affect the fetus. Marijuana is the most widely used illegal drug in the USA among women of reproductive age despite this fact there is a relative lack of literature dealing with this problem.
How Marijuana works in the brain is thru the receptors in our brain which respond to our natural chemicals. When it binds to our brain it gives the “high feeling” the user is looking for. The worry is that when it binds in a developing brain can this change the way the brain develops requiring more natural chemicals or making the brain resistant to these chemicals.
There are some studies that seem to show that marijuana can effect the development of the nervous system in a baby as evidenced by the increased nervousness/tremulousness and irritability that is seen after a child is born whose mother abused marijuana.
When these children enter school they are noted to have more behavioral problems and seem to have problems paying attention in school. The also appear to have more problems with memory at four years of age when compared to other children. They also have deficits in problem solving skills. Exposed children do not appear to have a decrease in IQ.
Later in life the outcomes are less clear what exactly happens. There seem to be no good data on what kind of “citizens” these children become.
The problem with marijuana is that it is usually not abused in isolation and that it is usually found in someone who at the same time is smoking cigarettes and perhaps drinking alcohol. These co-drug exposures make it difficult for researchers to say definitely what causes damage in a developing child’s brain
Written by James Reilly of Adoptiondoctors.com & RBKPediatrics.com
For Domestic and International Adoption Medical record Review