Pubdate: Mon, 03 Jul 2006
Source: Jamaica Observer (Jamaica)
Copyright: 2006 The Jamaica Observer Ltd,
Author: Dr Sharmaine Mitchell
Cited: the study
Referenced: Fred Gardner's on line column
Bookmark: (Marijuana)


Dr Mitchell,

I would like to point your attention to an article I read recently and
would love to hear your take on things. It's Dreher's Jamaican
Pregnancy Study reviewed by Fred Gardner, which says that babies born
to ganja-smoking mothers do better in some areas than other babies.


The Dreher Jamaican Pregnancy Study was conducted by Melanie
Dreher and colleagues at UMASS Amherst. This was a longitudinal study
to assess the well-being of infants and children whose mothers used
cannabis (ganja) during pregnancy.

The researchers lived in rural Jamaican communities among the women
they were studying. The study group was very small. It included 30
marijuana-using pregnant women who were matched for age and
socio-economic status with 30 pregnant women who did not use the drug.
The outcome of their pregnancies and the outcome of the babies were
then assessed.

The report from the study suggested that no differences were detected
three days after birth, and that at 30 days the exposed babies did
better on all the scales and significantly better on two of the scales
that assessed their reflexes and development of the nervous system.

The children were evaluated at age four and no differences were found
among the exposed and non-exposed groups. The mothers were defined as
light users (one to 10 spliffs a week), moderate users (11-20 spliffs
a week) and heavy users (21-70 spliffs a week). The consumption of
ganja tea was also taken into account.

The conclusion from the Dreher's study was that there was probably no
impact from ganja use in pregnancy, but that children who attend basic
school regularly, are provided with stimulating experiences at home
and encouraged to show mature behaviour will perform well whether or
not the mother used ganja during pregnancy.

However, the study population was small with only 30 participants, and
so it is not safe to make any definite conclusion or to recommend the
use of ganja in pregnancy. In two longitudinal studies by Peter Fried,
Adam Richardson and Davy, they found increased tremors and startles,
altered sleep patterns, signs of stress, impulsive and hyperactive
behaviour at six years old, more delinquent and impulsive behaviour.
Fried also found that children whose mothers smoked ganja showed
impaired 'executive' function.

Ganja use is also illegal and since its safety is highly questionable,
it is best to stay within safe guidelines during pregnancy and refrain
from the consumption of ganja in any form. It is better to be safe
than sorry, especially when you bear the responsibility of an unborn

Dr Sharmaine Mitchell is an obstetrician and gynaecologist. Send
questions and comments to  or fax to
968-2025. We regret that we cannot supply personal answers.
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MAP posted-by: Richard Lake