In recent years, CBD (cannabidiol) has become something of a media darling. Fans of the chemical claim it effectively helps deal with pain, anxiety, Parkinson’s disease and more. Manufacturers sell it in many forms, and CBD stores have popped up all over the place. Now many are wondering whether it’s safe to take CBD while pregnant.
The short answer: probably not. Here’s why.
A Single Authorized Use
CBD comes from the cannabis plant known as hemp. Another version of cannabis produces marijuana. Unlike marijuana, CBD’s roots are in hemp, a less potent sister plant. Hemp consists of less than 0.3% THC, while marijuana contains a higher concentration. This chemical (also known as tetrahydrocannabinol) is what gives marijuana its intoxicating powers. With so little THC, CBD shouldn’t make you feel high, whether taking it at home, work or elsewhere.
Although CBD is legal in Northern Kentucky and Southeastern Indiana, you may not want to use CBD while pregnant. Thus far, the FDA has only approved CBD as epilepsy treatment. But it isn’t useful for all types of epilepsy. Rather, only two rare forms of the disease get treated with an oral CBD solution: Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome.
Research is ongoing to see if it can help with other conditions.
CBD: Documented Downsides
Currently, there are well-documented complications from using marijuana while pregnant or breastfeeding. These include increased risk of baby experiencing the following:
- Brain development issues
- Difficulty growing in the womb
- Low birth weight
- Premature birth
Marijuana has undergone substantial research, but CBD use during pregnancy has not been sufficiently medically reviewed. While we don’t know about side effects of CBD during pregnancy, we know about side effects in the general population, including:
- Decreased appetite
- Feelings of sleepiness
- Liver damage
- Mood changes such as irritability
- Unwanted interaction with other medications
Effect of CBD on Baby
Not afraid of increased irritability or decreased appetite while pregnant? In early tests, high doses of CBD affected the fetuses of pregnant animals. Specifically, developing male fetuses’ reproductive systems suffered harm. It is unknown if similar injury might occur with human pregnancies.
Another reason to avoid CBD while pregnant is the potential impurity of the substance. Regardless of what the label says, CBD products may include a variety of unwanted contaminants. CBD oil, lotion, foods and other products are not regulated by the FDA. As a result, CBD manufacturers have little oversight. This may result in CBD that contains bacteria, fungi, pesticides or heavy metals.
Additionally, CBD may contain THC. One study published in JAMA found that 18 of 84 CBD products purchased online contained the mind-altering substance. In those same products, 26% had less CBD than advertised. With so little CBD included (some products contained had less than 1%), no potential benefit remained.
CBD While Pregnant: The Final Word
To date, it’s unclear how CBD could affect unborn babies. It’s also unknown whether the negative side effects of CBD can get passed through breast milk. Researchers hope to find answers to these questions and more soon.
Many questions remain about whether CBD products are safe and effective ways to improve your health and about possible effects during pregnancy. Until researchers find those answers, the FDA recommends against using any type of CBD while pregnant or breastfeeding.
Talk with a Professional
Talk to your obstetrician before trying any of these products. Schedule a visit with an OB/GYN at St. Elizabeth Physicians in Northern Kentucky and Southeastern Indiana.