Is CBD Safe During Pregnancy?

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Pregnancy involves many of the medical conditions that cannabis treats. Women suffer mild-to-severe nausea, muscle cramps throughout their bodies, inflammation in joints, and stress and mood swings. That cannabis can treat these symptoms doesn’t mean you should use it.

Straight out, we can say smoking cannabis in any form, inhaling anything that moves through their respiratory and blood systems. Pregnant women should even consider avoiding second-hand smoke.

It’s important for cannabis advocates to understand pot and pregnancy are contra-indicated.

Here’s what the limited research says:

  • “Current evidence indicates that cannabis use both during pregnancy and lactation, may adversely affect neurodevelopment, especially during periods of critical brain growth both in the developing fetal brain and during adolescent maturation, with impacts on neuropsychiatric, behavioural [sic] and executive functioning” (Journal of Perinatology, 2014).
  • “It is not surprising that manipulations of the endocannabinoid system by cannabinoid exposure during early developmental stages can result in long-lasting neurobehavioral consequences” (European Archives of Psychiatry and Clinical Neuroscience, 2009).
  • “From 2009 to 2016, marijuana use among KPNC [Kaiser Permanente Northern California] pregnant females increased from 4% to 7%. Of concern, 22% of pregnant females younger than 18 years and 19% of pregnant females aged 18 to 24 years screened positive for marijuana use in 2016” (JAMA, 2017).

You may infer the problem. The very limited research on the topic of cannabis and pregnancy assumes a THC content. And, the results argue strongly that THC (or any psychoactive drug) will adversely affect fetal development.

But, the question is whether CBD is safe during pregnancy.

So, since smoking is out of the question, we must address the use of CBD products and derivatives like CBD oil, pills, edibles, or lotions. The following tries to report on what we know without recommending any option pending adequate long-term research.

In the absence of confirmed research into the effects of CBD on gestation, we are left to mine the media:

  • Recovery Village, a rehab center, advises, “In general, using CBD while one is pregnant is thought to be safer than smoking cannabis itself or THC-rich products.”
  • Farma Health reports, “although used for millennia for a variety of health purposes, the bottom line stance held by most doctors is that erring on the side of caution is the best course of action until research between the relationship of marijuana use, edibles, and oils becomes more comprehensive in scope in terms of pregnancy.”
  • Romper quotes, Dr. James Lozada, Obstetric Anesthesiologist with Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine who says, “we don't have a lot of information about the effects CBD has on pregnant women and their babies. Because of the uncertainty, I recommend not using these products during pregnancy — because we just don't have enough information to say whether it could harm your growing baby."
  • Ashley Abramson, writing for BRIT+CO says, “Clinical studies have shown CBD, which is often applied topically as an oil or taken orally as a tincture, to be therapeutically useful for managing anxiety and depression, chronic pain, sleep disorders, and even seizure disorders. There’s also clinical evidence that CBD can be effective in suppressing nausea and vomiting, both of which are common conditions in pregnancy.” However, the “clinical studies” she references have nothing to do with pregnancy, and the “clinical evidence” referenced covers studies on mice and without interest in pregnancy.
  • And, at Royal Queen Seeds, they say, “If you're a woman wondering if CBD is safe for you, we can't give you complete assurance. But it is a lot safer than some of the pharmaceutical drugs you may be prescribed. Be sure to talk with your physician about your concerns. The most important thing is that you aren't consuming anything you don't feel 100% comfortable with.

And, so it goes.

Advocates of CBD use identify its acknowledged benefits: anti-inflammatory, anti-emetic, anti-anxiolytic, and anti-spastic. There’s no denying those benefits.

While hemp CBD oil may be safer, there’s no proof. While CBD lotions may enrich skin and relieve muscle pain, heavy use will work its way into the blood system. While CBD edibles beat smoking, they must be metabolized through the liver, and there’s no research on that matter.

There’s little research in general on women who suffer severe symptoms during pregnancy. The occasional women may be disabled by her pregnancy, too sick to work and too worried about the baby’s development. In these extreme cases, medically moderated use of CBD oil may be a safer treatment than prescription meds. These mothers-to-be must work out a CBD oil dosage and scheduling plan with their doctors.

Without endorsing any of these products, they do market as pure and guaranteed, important issues when you consider the expense:

As a male writing this piece, I must admit it’s a bit glib to say the best advice is: “It’s better to be safe than sorry.” Still, considering the lack of interest in serious research on the CBD impact on pregnancy, the benefits do not balance with the risks.