With the indiscriminate use of marijuana today and the legalization of the drug in many states for recreational use, marijuana is becoming a problem among women who are pregnant, or who are trying to get pregnant.
The question is, is it safe?
The short-term answer is no. In its simplest form, marijuana acts as both a stimulant and a depressant that affects your behavior and judgment. There are several individualized reports that have looked at the effects of marijuana in young adults. There is indirect evidence to suggest that these young adults could be suffering from short-term memory loss, a decrease in concentration and judgment and in some cases, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD. Other studies have even suggested marijuana may be linked with depression and long-term psychiatric affects.
Now, all of that is up for debate and certainly there are far worse chemicals out there that people ingest every day recreationally that are far more dangerous.
In the developing brain of a fetus, the baby's brain gradually grows in the different stages of the pregnancy. Vital portions of the brain are formed during this time, and any scenario that could create inflammation, or lack of oxygen, could potentially delay the proper development and cause the baby to be born with health issues.
I think that as time goes on and more data is analyzed, especially in those states where marijuana is legalized, better conclusions will come out of all of this. In the meantime, I would advise mothers to drop the joint and start living healthy.
Another thing to consider is a lot of the marijuana sold today has been genetically modified to enhance larger amounts of THC -- the chemical responsible for most of marijuana's psychological effects -- that can create more physical side effects in those that smoke or ingest it.
Also remember that a lot of this marijuana has been found to have pesticides and other chemicals that can be detrimental to the baby and proper growth.
I want to be clear about this, I do think that there is a tremendous amount of data that proves there are positive effects of medical marijuana in certain clinical scenarios. I support more research in these areas and I also believe that the non-psychotropic element of marijuana called CBD, may have a positive effect on people that may have cognitive challenges. But as for pregnant women, the general use of marijuana is not advised.
Dr. Manny Alvarez serves as Fox News Channel's senior managing health editor. He also serves as chairman of the department of obstetrics/gynecology and reproductive science at Hackensack University Medical Center in New Jersey. For more information on Dr. Manny's work, visit AskDrManny.com.