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Smoking Cannabis Can Harm Unborn Babies

By Vaishali Parnami

The topic of harmful effects of cannabis on pregnant women is never ending and highly confusing. Cannabis may not necessarily affect the baby foetus of a pregnant woman, it doesn't lead to growth retardation, pre-term labor, and any such related complications in the pregnancy. However, it can affect the brain development of the foetus.

Many studies have proved that mothers, who have smoked cannabis during pregnancy, have children with executive functional difficulties, behavioral and learning issues, and have problems with accomplishing a task.

Although executive functional issues don't seem different and the child may appear as normal, they may not respond in an appropriate way at home, school, or other places.

While these are the side effects of smoking cannabis when a woman is pregnant or bearing a child, there are also instances when children were affected even when the parents stopped smoking years ago.

A Study Says That Smoking Cannabis Can Alter Genetic Imprints of Babies Conceived

A study revealed that even when parents have stopped using cannabis years before conceiving, its effects can still harm their children. This research argues that people who smoke cannabis can have permanent changes in their genetic structure, which can further enhance the chances of drug abuse in future generations.

The scientists have observed that regularly smoking cannabis has underlying genetic changes, which are more likely to pass on to the coming generations. This directly means that if you smoke cannabis regularly, then your children are likely to have the same altered genes and their children after that.

So, you are practically passing down your genetic imprint via altered egg and sperm, which leads to issues in the future generations.

Throughout life, our genes get altered by various factors such as stressors and food. These alterations are passed on to our future generations. These alterations also affect how we react and perceive things, and have the same impact on our coming generations.

A Study On Rats Shows Long-term Effects On The Future Generations

A study was conducted on adult rats with THC content in their body. THC is a compound usually found in cannabis. These rats were enabled to mate and their next generations were born with no effect of THC.

However, when these rats grew up, they had enhanced craving of heroin solution when compared to rats conceived from parents with no THC.

An Epigenetic Memory Mark

Some scientists say that if someone is exposed to cannabis smoking early in life, it leaves behind an epigenetic memory mark, which is long term. This is passed on from one generation to another and sets a legacy for your children.

Some scientists further argue that even smoking cigarettes during pregnancy can lead to genetic changes in the foetus, which can make coming generations more inclined towards cannabis smoking and cigarette smoking.

Father's Smoking Habits Can Affect The Foetus

It is generally believed that a pregnant woman should stay away from cannabis and smoking. Use of drugs can severely affect the child even if you have conceived after years of stopping. All the campaigns and studies also focus on women bearing the child. However, in reality, fathers' smoking habits can also severely affect the foetus.

Males who smoke cigarettes or cannabis can pass on the DNA changes to their children via their sperm. This may, in fact, enhance your child's chances of having your genetic diseases.

Researchers also believe that these genetic changes transferred to the children can lead to childhood cancer such as leukaemia and other diseases related to genetics.

How Smoking Cannabis Can Impact Men Trying To Conceive?

Smoking cannabis can actually decrease your chances of conceiving, as cannabis leads to sluggish and abnormal sperm development. It also influences sperm quality, which increases the difficulties in conceiving.


Smoking cannabis and even cigarettes can have a lasting impact on your baby's health, no matter if you stopped smoking just before conceiving, years before conceiving, or didn't stop at all. All the cases have some or the other levels of effects on your baby's health.

While many people say that their babies are healthy even when they smoked cannabis when pregnant, these are small in number. Or may be they have not seen the executive functioning difficulties yet.

More than this, you are practically passing on genetic alterations to your children and making them more susceptible to smoking cannabis and cigarettes later on in their lives.

Further, males who think that it is only a woman's responsibility to stop smoking before pregnancy, are wrong. Males can pass on severe genetic disorders to their child and increase their child's chances of having leukaemia and cancer.

Hence, it is obviously of utmost importance for both men and women to stop smoking cannabis if they want to have children and not pass on their genetic alterations and diseases to them.

Read more about: smoking
Story first published: Friday, June 22, 2018, 13:30 [IST]
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