Don't use CBD oil for pregnancy and labour pains, warns MUHC doctor
MONTREAL -- As some mothers-to-be search for alternatives to pharmaceutical drugs and epidurals to get them through the pains of labour, one recent trend is weeding its way into conversation.
With marijuana-derived products hitting the (legal) market in recent years, experts say pregnant women are increasingly musing over the possibility of using cannabidiol (CBD) to relieve anxiety around the big day, and potentially even quell the torment of active contractions.
"In humans, we have to be very, very careful about using it, in particular in pregnancy," said Gabriella Gobbi, professor of psychiatry at McGill University and senior scientist at the Research Institute of the MUHC (RI-MUHC). "We don’t know the real effects of cannabidiol. We don’t know the right dosage that is safe for women or that can eventually pass to the baby."
CBD, one of the active ingredients in marijuana plants, has often been touted as a natural alternative to relieve pain, anxiety and other disorders. Unlike its brother component, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), experts say it does not give consumers the feeling of being high.
"We know that THC should be avoided in pregnancy because it can lead to cognitive or behavioural consequences for the fetus or lead to preterm birth," she said. "The cannabidiol that you buy still contains a certain percentage of THC. It's very difficult to find a pure, 100 per cent cannabidiol."
Gobbi notes there is a lot of ongoing research on CBD and its ability to curb pain in animals, but there isn't enough concrete scientific evidence that proves it works the same way for humans.
Though some advocates suggest CBD and hemp have been used for centuries in countries like India and Tibet – as well as by Vikings and medieval Germans – to naturally induce labour and ease pain, Gobbi insists there is no modern proof that it is safe for baby.
"It's difficult to say for women how much you can take, for how long, the dosage that can harm your baby or that you could eventually take," Gobbi told CTV News. "We have to know if it's dangerous for the fetus, for the baby."
BIG RISKS FOR MUM AND BABY
Currently, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) "strongly advises" against the use of any marijuana products during pregnancy or while breastfeeding.
"Based on what we do know, there is significant cause for concern," the agency argues. "High doses of CBD in pregnant test animals have caused problems with the reproductive system of developing male fetuses."
The FDA notes CBD can also be transferred to babies directly through breastmilk.
"We especially want to learn more about the effects of CBD during pregnancy and while breastfeeding," the FDA states. "For example, whether, and to what extent, the presence of CBD in human milk harms the breastfed baby or the mother’s milk production."
On its end, the Société québécoise du cannabis (SQDC) tells CTV News it sells its goods purely for "recreational" purposes and therefore doesn't have any data or information on whether pregnant women are using its products.