It's no secret that smoking marijuana during a pregnancy puts the baby's health at risk. However, new research is indicating that smoking marijuana can be harmful to a baby before it is even conceived.
A study of 3,000 pregnant women conducted by the University of Adelaide in Australia has found that women who use marijuana prior to their pregnancies can double their chances of delivering prematurely, according to ScienceDaily.com. A premature birth includes births that happen at least 3 weeks before the due date. These preterm births can make the baby vulnerable to heart diseases and diabetes later in life.
"Spontaneous preterm birth in our population is about 6 to 7 percent" Professor and author of the study Gus Dekkar told Yahoo! Shine, "with THC, you arrive around at about 15 percent."
This new finding raises questions of just how much marijuana can adversely affect the baby. Are the premature births the result of prolonged and heavy use or can the premature births be caused by casual and infrequent use? Can a few puffs off of a joint back in our undergrad days come back to haunt us years or decades later?
According to Professor Dekkar, the women interviewed in his study were mostly habitual users in the time leading up to conception.
"For most patients, this was daily --mostly a few joints." he explains. "We didn't ask these women for how many years they had smoked THC, but for many of these women, it would have been years."
These results are rather startling. A mother can certainly stop smoking pot during a pregnancy, but she can't exactly turn back the clock to undo actions that have occurred before the baby was even conceived.