With the legalization of cannabis by the Canadian government, it is important to note that the legal use of cannabis does not necessarily make it safe. There is no known safe amount of cannabis use during pregnancy. Currently, there is limited Canadian data about the prevalence of cannabis use during pregnancy. Cannabis use among women in Canada is on the rise, with approximately 11% of women of childbearing age reporting cannabis use in the past year according to Health Canada (2013). Cannabis use is high among young women and men of childbearing age; 29.7% of individuals age
20-24 years report past year use. It is estimated that about 5% of pregnant women use illicit drugs during pregnancy, though it is not known what percentage use cannabis specifically. Research on cannabis use during pregnancy demonstrates some potential negative outcomes associated with heavy use (one or more joints per day).
Cannabis use during pregnancy may:
- Affect the ability to become pregnant as a result of changes in the menstrual cycle for women
- Lower sperm count and poorer sperm quality in men
- Increase the risk of preterm birth
- Lead to lower birth weight of the baby
- Be associated with longer-term developmental effects in children, adolescents, and adults including decreases in memory function, attention, and reasoning and problem-solving skills, and increases in hyperactive behaviour and future substance use
It is important to note that most of the current research evidence presents findings of studies where cannabis use was administered by smoking. Little is known about exposure through other routes of use. Current evidence is also limited by: reliance on self-report, the presence of cofounding factors, and small samples of women who use cannabis prenatally. While more research is needed, both in quantity and quality, it is prudent to advise pregnant women and women of childbearing age of the potential long-term adverse developmental and behavioural effects associated with cannabis use during pregnancy.
(2019).Canada FASD Research Network website.Retrieved September 5,2019 from CanFASD.ca