CBD oil has been favored as an effective natural remedy for almost every type of ailment, including stress and pain. CBD is also used to deal with seizures, as well as alleviate the side effects of chemotherapy. However, since CBD is extracted from cannabis plants and is neither psychotic or addictive, can it help with fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) as well and is it safe for pregnant mothers?
While there is still a lack of enough evidence, at this stage enough studies have shown that the use of cannabis while pregnant or breastfeeding can lead to increased risk of low birth weight, preterm labor, and brain and behavior problems.
What is FAS?
FAS or fetal alcohol syndrome is a medical condition in a child that is a consequence of alcohol exposure during the mother’s pregnancy. While symptoms of FAS differ from child to child, the condition may also lead to brain damage and growth problems. Unfortunately, the defects caused by fetal alcohol syndrome are not reversible.
There is no amount of alcohol consumption recommended to be safe during pregnancy. A pregnant woman who drinks while pregnant is placing her baby at risk of FAS.
If a child is suspected of having fetal alcohol syndrome, talk to a doctor immediately. Early diagnosis of the disorder may help to reduce issues, such as learning difficulties and behavioral problems.
Symptoms of FAS
Signs and symptoms of FAS may include any combination of physical defects, cognitive disabilities, and inability to function and cope with daily life.
Physical defects may include:
- Slow physical growth before and after birth
- Small head circumference and brain size
- Vision difficulties or hearing problems
- Deformities of joints, limbs, and fingers
- Distinguishing facial features, such as small eyes, an abnormally thin upper lip, an upturned nose, and unusually smooth skin between the nose and upper lip
Issues with the brain and central nervous system may include:
- Poor judgment skills
- Poor attention and processing information
- Difficulty remembering things or situations
- Difficulty with reasoning and problem-solving
- Jitteriness or hyperactivity
- Trouble adapting to change
- Difficulty planning or working toward a goal
- Problems with behavior and impulse control
- Trouble getting along with others
- Rapid change of mood
Is CBD oil safe to use during pregnancy?
There is limited research on the use of CBD oil during pregnancy. Thus, experts advise pregnant women to refrain from using it. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) suggests that women who are pregnant or contemplating pregnancy should refrain from using marijuana or any of its byproducts.
Studies show that the use of marijuana during pregnancy can lead to unwanted outcomes, such as lower birth weight and smaller babies. Thus, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), together with ACOG and the U.S. surgeon general, has cautioned pregnant women not to use any marijuana byproducts. Smoking or vaping marijuana may also be damaging to the fetus.
Even the low-dose CBD products are not considered safe during pregnancy. When expectant mothers smoke or consume marijuana, chemicals go through the placenta and reach the fetus. Studies suggest that self-reported rates of marijuana use in pregnant females may not be an accurate measure of marijuana use. Still, exposure to marijuana could interrupt healthy fetal brain development and heighten the risk of giving birth to a smaller or stillbirth baby.
There were also studies done that demonstrated associations between marijuana use during pregnancy and future developmental and hyperactivity disorders in children.
Although evidence is mixed as to whether marijuana use by pregnant women is related to low birth weight and premature birth, long-term use of marijuana may intensify these risks.
CBD and FAS
A study, published in Scientific Reports, a Nature Research, tested whether cannabinoids intensify alcohol-induced congenital disabilities. Results showed how a single exposure to cannabinoids during early pregnancy could cause growth problems in a developing embryo.
The study done was the first research to show such a connection in mammals. The investigation was performed in mice, which are very accurate models for the development that occurs during early pregnancy.
In the study, researchers found that the brain and facial developmental effects caused by exposure to cannabinoids CBD and THC were very similar to what is seen in fetal alcohol syndrome. They also found that when cannabinoids and alcohol are used together, the probability of these congenital disabilities more than doubled. They went on to demonstrate that these drugs may be causing defects by interacting on a primary cellular level and impeding signaling between molecules and cells that regulate the fetus’s growth and development.
The defects caused by fetal alcohol syndrome are not reversible. However, CBD may help alleviate some of the symptoms that may come with FAS. Many anecdotal reports and studies demonstrate that CBD can help with anxiety, seizures, and chronic pain. It also helps to improve mood and sleep, manage stress, and reduce inflammation.
During pregnancy, anything a woman drinks can affect her baby. Alcohol is no exception. Having too much alcohol during pregnancy can lead to irreversible problems in a baby.
Drinking During Pregnancy
Several things happen to an unborn baby when a woman drinks during pregnancy. First, alcohol enters the bloodstream and crosses the placenta to reach the developing baby. This means that the baby is going to have a higher blood alcohol content than an adult because babies metabolize alcohol slower than adults. This prevents the baby from getting enough oxygen and optimal nutrition, leading to the tissues and organs not developing.
Is It Safe?
The American Pregnancy Association says that no amount of alcohol is safe during pregnancy. This is because alcohol enters the baby’s bloodstream in the same concentrations as in the mother’s bloodstream. However, it takes babies twice as long to eliminate the alcohol from their bloodstreams than their mothers.
One of the main concerns of drinking alcohol during pregnancy is that it can lead to fetal alcohol syndrome in the child. Because no research has determined a specific amount of alcohol that causes fetal alcohol syndrome, pregnant women should avoid all alcohol.
Fetal Alcohol Syndrome
Fetal alcohol syndrome causes both brain damage and growth problems in babies whose mothers drink alcohol during pregnancy. Fetal alcohol syndrome can cause many problems, including physical defects, brain and central nervous system problems, and social and behavioral issues. The CDC estimates that fetal alcohol syndrome is present in two to seven births out of 1,000.
However, some assessments indicate that 2 to 5 percent of school-age children show symptoms of fetal alcohol spectrum disorders. Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders is an umbrella term that describes a range of disorders resulting from exposure to alcohol in the womb. Fetal alcohol syndrome is the most severe of these disorders.
Children with fetal alcohol syndrome can suffer from a range of physical problems, such as slow growth in the womb and after birth, kidney problems, vision or hearing problems, heart problems, and small head circumference and brain size. They may have deformed joints, limbs, or fingers.
Children with fetal alcohol syndrome also have several distinctive facial features. These include small eyes, a very thin upper lip, a smooth area between the nose and upper lip, and a small, upturned nose.
Children with fetal alcohol syndrome may also suffer from brain and central nervous system problems, such as poor coordination and balance, quickly changing moods, hyperactivity, and difficulty with memory. They may also have trouble identifying the consequences of their choices.
Finally, fetal alcohol syndrome can lead to social and behavioral issues as the child ages. In school, the child may have trouble getting along with others or making friends. He or she may be unable to adapt to change, and it may be difficult for him or her to switch from one task to another. While doing homework, the child may have problems focusing and keeping track of time.
While not present at birth, secondary disabilities can result from fetal alcohol syndrome. These include attention deficit hyperactivity disorder; mental health problems, such as depression or anxiety; alcohol or drug misuse; and problems staying employed or in school.
There are several ways to avoid fetal alcohol syndrome:
- Women can avoid alcohol when trying to get pregnant. A baby’s brain, heart, and blood vessels all begin to form in the first few weeks of pregnancy, before a woman may know she is pregnant.
- Women can avoid alcohol during pregnancy. Children whose mothers do not drink during pregnancy are not at risk for fetal alcohol syndrome.
- If they’re not using birth control, women can consider giving up alcohol during their childbearing years. Women who do not use a form of birth control are at risk for an unplanned pregnancy, and they may unknowingly be putting their baby at risk while drinking alcohol.
- Women can get help for an alcohol problem before getting pregnant. Women who have alcohol problems should not get pregnant without first breaking their addiction. Pregnancy can make it even harder to break an alcohol addiction, and in the meantime, an unborn baby can suffer.
While fetal alcohol syndrome cannot be reversed, the sooner it is caught, the more likely it is a doctor can help reduce the risk of long-term problems in the child.
When Alcohol Is Dangerous During Pregnancy
The first trimester is the most dangerous time to drink alcohol. This is because the facial features and important organs, such as the bones and central nervous system, are all at key stages of development. However, drinking alcohol in the second or third trimester can also be equally dangerous for a baby.
Even moderate amounts of alcohol can lead to a range of problems, such as miscarriage, low birth weight, early labor, stillbirth, or learning disabilities later in childhood. However, some research suggests light drinking during pregnancy is unlikely to harm an unborn baby.
How Much Alcohol Is Safe?
The study said that pregnant women who had up to four drinks per week had an 8 percent higher risk of having a small baby and a 10 percent higher risk of premature birth. By comparison, light to moderate smoking led to a 22 percent higher risk of premature birth.
Getting drunk can cause serious harm to an unborn baby, so if a woman does decide to drink during pregnancy, she should never get drunk. She should limit her intake to no more than one or two drinks per week.
Women who suspect they are addicted to alcohol should not become pregnant, and if they are already pregnant, they should get help immediately. Whether a woman is pregnant, there are resources to help break alcohol addiction, including the Addiction Hotline at 1-888-299-5213 and www.aa.org.
There is not enough research to determine if any amount of alcohol is safe during pregnancy, which is why many doctors recommend staying away from it completely. However, pregnant women who decide to have a few drinks should consult their doctors and only drink in moderation for the best chances of delivering a healthy baby.