Recently, I have received numerous requests for my opinion of the use of CBD-enhanced hemp oil use and pregnancy. Having been a practicing Maternal/Fetal Medicine specialist, I have seen the devastating effects on the fetus of maternal of drug use during pregnancy, both illicit and prescribed drugs. However, I have seen the effects of not taking needed drugs on the mother, because of a debilitating medical condition, and the ensuing adverse effects on the fetus, also. In obstetrics, we are always having to determine the risks versus benefits of taking, or not taking, a drug for both the mother and the fetus.

What do we know?

All the substances in cannabis (cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids) readily cross the placenta and can (and do) affect the fetus. Therefore, we need to weigh the risks of fetal exposure to the risks/benefits of maternal use of the drug. When it comes to compounds containing THC , almost always the risk for the developing fetus outweighs, by a significant margin, the benefits for the mother. This is because we have good evidence that THC exposure in the developing brain changes the structure and function of the brain adversely and these effects seem always to carry over into adulthood. When it comes to the other cannabinoids, we don’t have much data on the possible adverse effects. This is not because there are none, but because very little research has been done in this area. Therefore, we have to make decisions based on what we know at this point.

Presently, we know that CBD has effects on the immune and neural systems in normal human adults, but these effects don’t seem to harm them. In adults and children that have certain diseases, CBD can significantly change the function of both systems in extremely beneficial ways. We suspect that CBD can change the structure and function of both the immune and neural systems of fetuses, but we do not if this change will be for good, for bad, or of no consequence.

Recommendations

At this time, I do not recommend pregnant women take CBD-enhanced hemp oil if they don’t have to. If they have a certain disease for which they need to take CBD-enhanced hemp oil, they should talk it over with their obstetrician before they take it. Many diseases improve during pregnancy and patients often can reduce or eliminate their medicines for these diseases. If the decision is made to take CBD-enhanced hemp oil, take some that has no THC in it, if at all possible. If some THC is required, take the minimal amount of THC required to control the disease. Only in rare circumstances will one ever have to take significant amounts of THC during pregnancy.
In regards to giving cannabis products to a mother to treat a fetus that has a problem, there is no information I can find where this has ever been done. There are some theoretical situations where I can imagine trying it, but to my knowledge, no one ever has.

Bottom line

All the products in cannabis (cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids) cross the placenta and seem to have effects on the developing fetus. Some of these effects can be detrimental, specifically THC effects. Whether the other compounds cause detrimental, beneficial, or no effects to the fetus is unknown at this time. My recommendation is not to take any cannabis products during pregnancy, but if some are needed, the least amount of THC required to control the maternal problems should be used.

Disclaimer: The above are my opinions only and any woman who is concerned about taking cannabis products during pregnancy should consult with their doctor about this before proceeding. Note: hopefully their doctor is a board-certified OB/GYN, or better yet a board-certified MFM, Maternal/Fetal Medicine, specialist.

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