Smoking cigarettes and drinking alcohol are among the biggest no-no’s during pregnancy. Science has evolved enough over the years to let us know that a baby’s health can be severely affected by tobacco and alcohol use. Recent studies in Australia aim to determine whether or not cannabis use proves to be an equal threat.
In fact, a study from the University of Western Australia suggests smoking cannabis can damage the sperm’s DNA, possibly increasing the risk of birth defects and childhood cancer.
The damage to unborn children with damage to DNA is a process called chromothripsis – or ‘chromosomal shattering’.
Professor Stuart Reese of the University of Western Australia’s School of Psychiatry and Neuroscience says the process can slow down cell growth and make it difficult for cells to divide.
“This can disrupt fetal growth and the development of organs and limbs,” he says. “Sperm is tomorrow’s Australia so we need to get the message out there.”
Men should be equally aware when planning to start a strong and healthy family. The study is based off of a less controlled Hawaiian study from 2007, however, it should be noted that smoking anything foreign while pregnant is not a good idea.
Cannabis use before and during pregnancy has also been linked to preterm birth, with a strong possibility of causing birth defects meaning the father should be equally aware of their habits during a mother’s pregnancy.
The study of 5,600 women at the University of Adelaide linked women who smoke pot at the 20th week of pregnancy to an astonishing five fold increase in preterm births. Following women from Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, and the UK, the study found women who smoke pot at all during pregnancy are twice as likely to have a preterm birth.
“We’re confident that marijuana shouldn’t be used in pregnancy and it’s important that the message gets out there,” says Professor Claire Roberts of the University’s Robinson Research Institute. “This new study suggests that, overall, more than six percent of preterm births could have been prevented if women didn’t use marijuana.”
Although the research links marijuana to pre-term births, it does not appear to increase the risk of miscarriage or other abnormalities.