American Academy of Pediatrics releases guidelines for medical marijuana

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Until more studies are conducted, the AAP recommends abstinence

For the first time, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) is addressing the subject of marijuana use. It has released its first-ever guidelines for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding, recommending that they cut back or abstain. The suggestion isn’t based on any political points of view, as are many, but on the simple fact that more research is needed on the effects of marijuana on a fetus or infant.

According to Dr. Seth Ammerman, a clinical professor of pediatrics at Stanford University and collaborator on the AAP guidelines, “Women should definitely be counseled that it’s not a good idea to use marijuana while pregnant. If you’re breastfeeding, we would encourage you to cut back or quit.”

Researchers who designed the report admit that the lack of studies is the impetus for the suggestions. However, they point out that available data on THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, could be harmful to developing brains. They explained, “The importance of the published findings and the emerging research regarding the potential negative effects of marijuana on brain development are a cause for concern despite the limited research.”

Researchers clarified that one study used to guide their conclusions isn’t completely scientific. That study was conducted through “self-reporting,” where the women had to acknowledge their drug use. Out of concern of legal ramifications, some may have denied using drugs, or may have not admitted to using others that could be harmful.

Marijuana usage is on the rise by pregnant women in the US. According to a report in the Journal of the American Medical Association last year, 4% of pregnant women in 2009 admitted to using marijuana. This had increased to 7% by 2016.