Women carry a heavy burden when it comes to the survival of our species. For nine months, a woman is the temporary home and life support that keeps a fetus alive and healthy. Unfortunately, if any one woman decides to put herself before the developing child inside of her, there can be damaging consequences. There are many things, both legal and illegal, that can radically alter the outcome of the child growing inside of a woman. Alcohol and drug consumption during pregnancy in many places around the world is seen as taboo, while others are less mindful of the potential effects of such choices and in some cases actually condone drug use during pregnancy. Regardless of the cultural influences that exist, women should take into consideration what can happen if the fetus is exposed to alcohol and drugs. The effects of drugs in utero can have severe and everlasting effects throughout a child’s lifespan.
Marijuana is a rapidly growing topic for discussion due to states legalizing its use outside of medicinal purposes. But the law cannot dictate who is allowed to use it once he or she has met the legal age requirement. A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine showed “27 percent of the subjects had used marijuana during pregnancy” (Zuckerman et al.).
Women who smoke marijuana during pregnancy have an amplified chance of delivering preterm babies who may have a lower head and chest circumference, as well as reduced birth weight ("MSACD Marijuana."). Because of these effects, the fetus has an increased risk of mental retardation that could manifest itself later in life.
Just as with smoking during pregnancy, usage can still affect the baby after birth if the mother is breastfeeding. What the mother is taking into her body during these breast feeding years is moving from herself, into the child via milk ducts and is deposited into the fatty tissue for several weeks after exposure ("Learn About Marijuana: Factsheets: Reproduction and Pregnancy.").
As the child grows, the negative effects can grow with them. Research shows that “1st and 3rd trimester exposure predicted increased hyperactivity, inattention, and impulsivity symptoms” (“MSACD Marijuana.”). This can lead to problems in the classroom from ADD and ADHD symptoms and even concerns regarding police assistance, depending on the severity of impulse control problems.
Once these individuals reach the adulthood stage in the lifecycle, his or her exposure to marijuana during gestation brings a new disadvantage into view. People who were exposed have a higher chance of trying the drug themselves during life. This is not always the case, but for the few that continue to use it can harm their chances of reproducing. In men, habitual usage “retards sperm maturation, reducing the sperm count and sperm motility, and increasing the rate of abnormal sperm” (qtd. In Bloch 1983). Habitual usage in women is parallel with men as it slows the ovulation cycle ("Department of Health The health...