Several studies have shown that the use of marijuana, and other drugs by extension, can cause harm to a pregnant mother’s developing baby. These effects may not necessarily be visible, but the damage that these can cause goes on at a far deeper level. So while the mother may seem all right at first glance, the baby, being the more sensitive of the two, suffers on very high and unprecedented levels.
Why does marijuana damage the baby more? For one thing, the baby’s internal organs are still developing, and that small dosage that the mother takes is proportionally larger to the baby, hence the difference in damage. Marijuana’s active ingredient, tetrahydrocannabinol, commonly known as THC, can hinder neuron development, and the baby can have problems with basic cognitive skills such as memory retention.
A study conducted by Harkany of the Karolinska Institute’s Molecular Neurobiology Division in Sweden shows that a certain type of receptor in the brain latch onto chemicals called endocannabinoids, a chemical that goes along with marijuana use. According to this study, these receptors guide the development of axons, which are the main channels of communication from neuron to neuron. But when these same receptors are exposed to endocannabinoids, these axons can’t position themselves the way they’re supposed to, leading to impaired neurological development.
This can also partly explain the increased tremors and the high-pitched cry that a baby can have, since these can signify that there are problems in the development of the baby’s nervous system.
This is why doctors strongly advise pregnant mothers not to take any drugs during the course of their pregnancy, since the effects touch mainly on the baby’s mental development. This can lead to more problems later on as the child grows up, and there can be behavioral problems as well as learning impediments brought by their mother’s drug usage during pregnancy.