Birth Defect Anencephaly May Be Associated with Marijuana Use

Washington State Investigates Increase of Disastrous Birth Defect—One Associated with Early Pregnancy Use of Marijuana

pregnant woman

This year, the news media has been reporting on the increase of a particularly disastrous birth defect appearing in Washington State—anencephaly. This refers to babies born without a brain or with only part of a brain. In nearly every case, the baby dies within hours or is stillborn.

According to these news reports, a nursing instructor noticed the increased incidence of anencephaly and reported it to state officials. Parents who had babies born with this defect have been questioned but doctors have not yet found a common denominator for these events.

One wonders if the investigating doctors have read the research connecting the use of high potency marijuana early in pregnancy with this event. According to a 2012 study, use of potent marijuana during early pregnancy increases the chances of anencephaly. If pot use is a common factor to this increase, this is something that young people planning families and young women everywhere need to know.

According to researchers, the harmful effects of chemicals in marijuana can have a damaging effect as early as two weeks after conception—many women have no clue that they are pregnant this early. The only safety would be in avoiding marijuana use completely when a woman is at an age when she can have children and is sexually active.

In Washington, medical marijuana was legalized in 1998 and recreational marijuana was legalized in 2012. After the initial passage of the medical marijuana law, many amendments were made until 2010, when a law was passed that doctors could not be penalized for recommending pot. After that, according to the Business Insider website, “the number of dispensaries in Washington exploded.” The upsurge in anencephaly cases was noted between January 2010 and January 2013. In those 36 months, there were 23 cases of this birth defect, about four times the normal rate.

One hopes that science will rapidly supply further information on this point. If there is a connection, the public urgently needs to know how to prevent this severe birth defect.



Sue Birkenshaw

Sue has worked in the addiction field with the Narconon network for three decades. She has developed and administered drug prevention programs worldwide and worked with numerous drug rehabilitation centers over the years. Sue is also a fine artist and painter, who enjoys traveling the world which continues to provide unlimited inspiration for her work. You can follow Sue on Twitter, or connect with her on LinkedIn.