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Jun-27-2010 02:00printcomments

Cannabis Reduces Infant Mortality

Surprising connections between "Failure-to-Thrive" and Cannabinoids.

Image from a story about the Use Of Non-Psychoactive Cannabinoids In The Treatment Of Neurodegenerative Diseases

(NORTHERN CALIFORNIA) - Years ago, a friend of mine, a good Christian lady, had a child with "failure to thrive". She had CPS all over her, looking for even the tiniest trace of child neglect. They found none. The child was well cared for, but she just didn't seem that interested in eating. Her bottles often went half finished.

I believe that those bottles of formula, given from birth, were major part of the problem. Our bodies make chemicals called "endocannabinoids" that are closely related to THC and cannabidiol (CBD). Endocannabinoids control many bodily functions and are excreted into breast milk. When lactating female rabbits were injected with CBD, a non-psychoactive, plant-derived cannabinoid, there was "a significant accumulation of the drug in milk." [1]

Endocannabinoids are also detected in human and cow's milk, with the highest levels occurring the day after giving birth. This healthy dose of naturally-occurring endocannabinoids stimulates the suckling reflex in newborn mammals, including humans[2].

When newborn mice are given a chemical to block the effect between endocannabinoids and their CB receptors, the mice simply don't know how to eat. Yet, if the blocking agent is mixed with an equivalent amount of THC, the mice eat and grow normally[3].

CB receptors work kind of like an ignition switch. First, you need the right kind of "key" (the right-shaped cannabinoid) to go into the "keyhole" (the receptor) to turn on the "engine's" action (suckling, stopping pain or inflammation, or maybe killing a cancer cell). Phytocannabinoids (cannabinoids from plants, like THC) can mimic the effects of your endocannabinoids - they can turn on the same "ignition switches" as your body's own cannabinoids. The blocking agents (antagonists) are like sticking a broken key stub in the keyhole. You can't get a real key in, and the engine can't turn on.

Scientists have bred mice that do not have CB receptors. They are poor, sickly things, prone to all sorts of ailments. Some scientists believe that there are people like those mice, having fewer than normal, or dysfunctional, CB receptors. And infants born with this condition have growth failure resulting from an inability to ingest food, just like those newborn mice[4].)

If "failure to thrive" infants were being breast-fed, they would get at least some of their mother's normal endocannabinoids from her milk. If she were using cannabis, logically, her breast milk would contain not only her own endocannabinoids, but also the phytocannabinoids, THC and CBD. In CB receptor-deficient children, an extra dose of phytocannabinoids could make the difference between "failure to thrive" and a healthy child! However, since receptor deficiency is inheritable, the mother may be deficient, too, and unable to give her child sufficient amounts of endocannabinoids in her milk.

But all this is just conjecture on my part. Just me, grouping together various studies to make a theory about "failure to thrive" babies. Medical science surely isn't going to say that having Mom smoking a little pot in the evening is going to help her baby do better, is it?

Well, tonight, I found a study that seems to say just that! It's a sad little thing - an abstract of a study on the death of babies - yet vital facts can be learned from those soulless statistical studies. This one gave the infant death rates per 1,000 live births, and the drugs, if any, that the mother used during pregnancy.

A total of 2,964 babies were drug-tested at birth to see if they were positive for drugs - cocaine, opioids or cannabis were studied. 44% of the infants tested positive for all varieties of drugs, including the 3 being studied. During the first two years of their lives, 44 babies from the original group died. Since statistics are a drag to slog through, I'll cut right to the chase - the deaths per thousand live births - the numbers tell the story.

"No drugs at birth" deaths....... 15.7 deaths per 1000 live births

"Cocaine positive" deaths.......17.7 deaths per 1000 live births

"Opiate positive" deaths.......18.4 deaths per 1000 live births

"Cannabis positive" deaths.... 8.9 deaths per 1000 live births [5]

The cocaine and opiate babies have a higher death rate than the "No drugs" babies - that was to be expected. But look at the "cannabis" babies! Having extra cannabinoids in their bodies at birth (and likely later, from 2nd-hand exposure, or breast milk) seems to have some sort of a protective effect. The "cannabis" infants have a mortality rate almost half of what the "No drugs" infants have!

Cannabis has a remarkable safety record - it has never caused a single death by overdose, so it is safer than the Tylenol that we give to our children. Some cannabinoids, like CBD, can't get you high no matter how much you take, but are still quite effective medically. Perhaps it is time that someone considers doing a study of pediatric, non-psychoactive cannabinoid use to treat "failure to thrive" infants!

The studies below, and more, will appear in the new version of my list of medical cannabis studies and articles. It will be available around the beginning of August. For now, you can get a free copy of my current list (250 pages of MMJ links like those below), by emailing me at: i.wantgrannyslist@greenpassion.org.

[1] Mammary excretion of cannabidiol in rabbits after intravenous administration - ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/

[2] Born with the munchies - newscientist.com/

[3] Critical role of the endogenous cannabinoid system in mouse pup suckling and growth - ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/

[4] The endocannabinoid-CB receptor system: Importance for development and in pediatric disease - ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/

[5] Mortality Within the First 2 Years in Infants Exposed to Cocaine, Opiate, or Cannabinoid During Gestation - pediatrics.aappublications.org


Comments are Closed on this story.

Anonymous April 4, 2013 7:57 pm (Pacific time)

i had pprom at 16 weeks with my twins, and if you're not familiar with high risk pregnancy terms, means my water broke in my 2nd semester. the stats said i'd miscarry within a week. welp i sat on my ass eating healthy food complying with bedrest and you guessed it, smoking cannabis. my babies made it to 30 weeks gestation, which is remarkable, especially since i sustained a placental abruption at 26 weeks. in addition to this i pumped breast milk for them for the first 2 months of their lives, and they were released from the NICU 3 weeks earlier than expected :)

Daniel March 7, 2013 8:25 am (Pacific time)

As pro-cannabis as I am I would like to see the original study , not an interpretation of it

Andrew Darley November 15, 2012 10:22 am (Pacific time)

This article is by now quite old, but I will comment on its central claim (indeed, the article's title): that cannabis use during pregnancy lowers infant mortality. To supposedly corroborate this claim, a paper is cited. But does that paper actually support it? No it does not. Rather, despite dressing the article up in scientific jargon, the author of this piece exhibits a marked lack of understanding of statistical inference (which is necessary for evaluating almost all modern medical and public health research). If we read the abstract, the authors state the following: "A total of 2964 infants was studied. At birth, 44% of the infants tested positive for drugs: 30.5% positive for cocaine, 20.2% for opiate, and 11.4% for cannabinoids." 11.4% of 2964 is 338. It is said that of these, the infant mortality rate was observed to be 8.9 per 1000. This amounts to just three observed deaths. The non-drug-positive rate of infant mortality was 15.7 per 1000. Thus, the *expected* number of infant deaths amongst those whose mothers tested positive for cannabis (or, if you prefer, cannabinoids), assuming cannabis did not affect infant mortality, was just five. Thus on the basis of there being two fewer deaths in what is a sample far too small from which to draw such conclusions, 'Storm Crow' infers that cannabis actually has a beneficial effect on infant mortality. No such inference can be made from these data, and the study authors themselves do not come close to saying such a thing (which is of course why no such direct quotation appears in this article).

Anonymous August 25, 2012 5:10 pm (Pacific time)

The people who get their paycheck by prosecuting victimless crimes are the witch hunters of modern age. Drinking during pregnancy is really harmful to the fetus, but impossible to detect by any test after 12 hours.

Heidi July 25, 2012 6:13 am (Pacific time)

I have not read all the information above. I would just like to say that since I stopped using marijuana as a recreational drug, smoking it, my life has become more productive and purposeful. I believe 100% in the medicinal use of it though. I eat raw hulled hemp seeds every day in my raw oats breakfast too. Smoking, for me in general, is a bad habit that I gave up, thankfully.

Sara October 17, 2011 7:35 pm (Pacific time)

I smoked while I was pregnant and my son is going to be a year old in December, and since his first doctors visit he has been in the 95% in height and weight. He's healthy, has a good appetite, and is progressing faster than ALOT of other babies who are the same age or even older. I love my son and would never hurt him, and I haven't by smoking while pregnant. Just wanted to post on behalf of your stuies :)

Lyndsey October 17, 2011 6:43 pm (Pacific time)

I smoked while I was pregnant and if I hadn't I dont know what would have allowed me to eat and not feel nauseated. I had extreme morning sickness, the average pill that cures it, did nothing to help my situation. I read an article that stated many mothers smoke to help with morning sickness, eating, and not being nauseated. It definitely helped. I have to agree that smoking anything while pregnant is probably not the best idea, but I didnt have the chance of owning a vaporizer or any other method of inhaling vapor instead of smoke. My son was also not tested when he was born, in Indianapolis. As far as now, he is 14 months, is in the 75% for height and 50% for weight. He's already walking, talking, and developmentally is right where he should be. Just wanted to share my experience. Thanks!

Megan May 10, 2011 5:52 pm (Pacific time)

I am a mother who delivered a cannabis positive baby in Washington. I'm sure the practices are a bit different from Oregon. A social worker talked to me and a few people warned me that the marijuana would cross over into the breast milk (as if I were not aware of that). I tried explaining myself rationally, but no one seemed very interested in listening (although the social worker was more nervous during our conversation than I was). They told me they were not going to take "further" steps due to the lack of any other "risk factors" and the fact that I delivered a very healthy baby. My son was technically premature at 36 weeks, but considering my first was born at 27 weeks, this was a great improvement. They told me I would be getting a letter in the mail "saying 'no-no'" but I have yet to get it, and it has been over three months since I gave birth.

My son has gained weight well, sleeps beautifully, has a very aware and happy disposition, has great muscle development and control, and is extremely talkative. Though he has a moderate-to-severe case of reflux, he lacks the colic that typically accompanies it. He gets vocal when he is unhappy, but he rarely cries, and never for no apparent reason. He got sick at 7 weeks with RSV and required hospitalization due to his nasal passageways needing lots of suctioning. Interestingly, he had very little lung problems. Nurses and Dr.s told us the same story each of the three days were were in the hospital: "His lungs sounds like typical RSV lungs, but he is handling it very well, doesn't require oxygen (unlike most of their pediatric RSV cases), and is only here because his nose needs the wall suction."

I had been smoking almost daily before I got pregnant, continued the same pattern (but lighter 'hits') while pregnant, but after the birth/hospital incident I took 8 weeks off with 3 exceptions on days I felt I absolutely needed it. This was out of fear of CPS getting involved if there happened to be further testing on my son. I started again and the only differences in my son I have noticed are positive, although I can't definitively say it was from the THC itself, it could just be because I am a better mom and more regulated/rhythmic when I smoke regularly.

I assume most reading this are already aware of the Jamaica study by Dr. Dreher, but if not I would suggest reading the actual study over. So many of the other studies I have looked at directly study women who also use cigarettes, alcohol, and/or cocaine. And after all that, the "birth defects" were miniscule differences in weight, head size, and length.

Editor: Thanks for dropping by and sharing your story.  We continually publish new material about cannabis and health, please stay with us.

SandraMae February 27, 2011 2:45 pm (Pacific time)

I also wanted to add to Joy, not only would there be more babies but if we could use hemp in the states, we could save so much energy and negative chemicals. Clothing, Cleaning and body products. I just say it, but Hell Yeah to A Hemp United Work :) And even if never truly united, it will always be underground and thriving!!

jock December 27, 2010 11:18 pm (Pacific time)

Dose the use of marijuana subside the affect of lubus or subside the pain

Joy November 6, 2010 5:01 pm (Pacific time)

Cannabis was used historically for generations during delivery just in it's-self, and of coarse if needed before or after, was given by the doctors of those times without hesitation. Having been born myself with similar medical issue, I can attest that cannabis does stimulate and create an appetite like it or not. Medical specialists and scientists, physician's, etc. have been researching the medical benefit's to cannabis consumption for decades, CNN just did some great coverage exposing medically beneficial proof since 1942 that like the rest were all supressed out of fear and or failing to want to admit a mistake has been made in judging and condemning this plant. Enough research has medically concludeed showing cannabis has multiple beneficial medical effects, and as a benefitter of it myself, I welcomeand encourage all as well as additional research so we can find out exactly what ALL it can do to offer us help toward better health and better lining in a healthier enviornment. If this knowledge can either save so much as One more newborn baby, and especially since it's potential is saving hundreds if not thousands of babies, then I say we need to welcome the information, sing the praises, and pass this information along to All pregnant as well as potentially pregnant women in the hopes they too will want to better the odds of a healthy and normal life for their children. Cannabis, medically, is helping to keep me alive, though I was born with terminal illness physically. If cannabis use before delivery can potentially prevent a baby being born with sickness or disease of Any kind, then on behalf of all of us who've missed the window, please do consider using cannabis in effort of protecting them from suffering as Iand many others do and are due to the reefer madness propiganda that was so easily swallowed in our time. Cannabis can benefit you and your baby, as well as your siblings, patents and grandparents, a plant of true renoun! Thank you Salem-News.com or emphasizing beneficial information, especially regarding this wonderous plant, it truely is a Godsend ya know! Blessed be and be well everyone!

Storm Crow July 10, 2010 8:03 pm (Pacific time)

Yes, I do agree, but the study was done in 1997, before vaporizers and alternative methods of use were so common. The women of that study would have smoked their cannabis, so I kept "in tune" with the study and used the word "smoking". We have more choices in how to consume cannabis today. Vaporizers help to avoid the problems of combustion products. Glycerin can replace the alcohol found in most tinctures, and glycerin tastes sweet, with no alcohol burn. And edibles are certainly more healthy than smoking, but should be homemade to avoid excess sugar and additives. Smoking is the least healthy way of using cannabis and should be avoided by pregnant women- or anyone, for that matter! I just wonder what the numbers would be for the infants of non-smoking, cannabis-using, mothers?

Shaun July 9, 2010 3:44 pm (Pacific time)

I was fully supportive until you said "smoke marijuana" rather than just use marijuana. Smoking anything, while pregnant, should always be avoided when there are so many other alternatives, don't you agree?

Editor: Please appreciate that there is a great amount of research that has never been allowed to come forward.  Certainly smoking is not the ideal way of using this medicine but it is what it generally comes down to.  The cilia, the tiny hairs in your lungs, according to research that I can not cite on the spot, but is available, is stimulated with the smoke of cannabis.  Cigarette smokers who also use marijuana generally are more healthy than cigarette smokers.   On that level, smoking cigarettes is probably far worse; the stuff about marijuana being several times worse than tobacco is not true.  I appreciate your point; thanks for making it.  I think that it sounds pretty shocking to people, but there are millions of healthy people whose mothers used marijuana.  Thanks for your comment. 

Dad July 9, 2010 2:15 pm (Pacific time)

It's nice to see people taking a stand now and again - not being afraid to state the POSSIBILITY that cannabis may not be all bad. The propaganda is so ingrained that, as a nation, we're only barely willing to believe that cannabis has some good properties. Start throwing around "children" in discussions about cannabis, and people just flip out. My son has autism and has, at times, been so dangerous to himself that he's given himself a beating worthy of being considered serious child abuse. He's used many "safe" medications like Haldol, Ativan, Valium, Naltrexone, etc. But the only thing that's worked during a serious crisis... is cannabis. Videos don't lie: http://www.alexneedshelp.com/video I hope more of the fence-sitters will start to see the light. This country needs to get away from its dependency on pharmaceutical companies in a bad way.

Amber July 3, 2010 2:31 pm (Pacific time)

Thank you so much for compiling this information and putting it all together!

Storm Crow June 29, 2010 2:23 pm (Pacific time)

I include the studies so people can read them and see if they come to the same conclusion as I have. Although CB1 receptors control many vital functions, it is possible to live without them, as shown by the existence of "CB1 knockout" mice. "CB1 knockout mice appeared healthy and fertile, but they had a significantly increased mortality rate." (from "Increased mortality, hypoactivity, and hypoalgesia in cannabinoid CB1 receptor knockout mice"). Those mice are the extreme expression of an inheritable trait- the number of a type of CB receptors in an individual animal. If it can happen in mice, it can happen in humans. An impaired CB system, combined with the lack of a normally occurring, beneficial substance (or the phytocannabinoid equivalent) found in breast milk might just make a real difference. When a child is born prematurely, the lungs and other organs may not be fully developed. Would it not be reasonable to assume that other systems, such as the endocannabinoid system, are also not fully developed and unable to function properly? For a receptor to do its job, it needs to get "bumped into" by a cannabinoid floating around in the body. Having a surplus of cannabinoids available to "turn on" whatever receptors that ARE working, seems sensible. And FYI- I breastfed both of my sons for 2 years. Women who use only cannabis are often "into" a more natural lifestyle, including things like Lamaze deliveries and longer breast feeding. Although 2 years of breast feeding is a bit more than usual, it's not unheard of.

Storm Crow June 29, 2010 1:31 pm (Pacific time)

To clarify, the email is:i.wantgrannyslistgreenpassion.org.

nerd June 28, 2010 10:45 am (Pacific time)

To say that the formula is the problem because breast milk contains endo-cans is a ridiculous assertion. IF the comment was to imply that formula may not contain endo-cans then make the statement, and don't make formula out to be the villain when it has saved millions of lives.  Yes, the stats must be a drag for you to slog through especially since the "scientific" authors concluded no difference. Not statistically different. Probably because the death numbers (44) were too low to draw truly significant differences. So yes it must be a drag to slog through when they don't support your conclusion as well. And for the "continued protection while breast-feeding" argument - I am sure the study is well controlled with significant numbers for the amount of breast milk vs formula consumed by the infant and that of course all of the weed-smoking mothers were able to breast feed their babies for 2 years. I believe weed does have medicinal value. Just understand what you are reading and citing as proof of your theories. ANd remember you can only prove your hypothesis to be false. Because of the unknown, you cannot prove things to be true. Build your case to show that there is no evidence showing weed is bad.

Editor: I am curious, did you really read this report and the associated reference links?  It would appear that you did not.  Breastfeeding is by any logical account, far more advantageous for infants, do you dispute that?  I worry that you are a rep for a breastfeeding company, and you expect to counter a logical well researched report without even using a real name?  What I mean, is that if you are an expert, which your tone suggests, why be anonymous?  Most of our readers are educated and well aware that marijuana carries no threat toward anyone, except for jails and courts.  If you are trying to help then thanks, but your interpretation and mine are very different here.  Thanks for your comment.   


Josh Akers June 28, 2010 10:27 am (Pacific time)

People are so stuck on symbolism. the words 'baby' and 'cannabis' in the same sentence? We're all so damn brainwashed by propaganda. Just like the flotilla inquiry scam and the opening of the Israeli borders for aid to come in... The point is society never listens to new idea's or effects real change because they have been sold just the opposite for years. Remember children, marijuana funds Al-Qaida (even though Leon Panetta said yesterday there might be less than 50 Al-Qaida in all of Afghanistan)!

palmspringsbum June 27, 2010 3:51 pm (Pacific time)

Truly excellent article Granny. Sincerely, J. Craig Canada Sincerely, J. Craig Canada

lol June 27, 2010 6:34 am (Pacific time)

I don't know how they are currently handling such things but as recently as 2003 hospitals took urine samples from babies without their mother's permission if they suspected drug use by the mother, any kind of drug use. Later they began taking urine from all babies. Suspicion could be nurse gossip, review of doctors notes or hearsay from family or acquaintances reported to the state anonymously. If a young woman understanding that there is some kind of patient confidentiality, disclosed to her practicionar that she had used any type of drugs in any part of her past or associated with those who did, this is reason for suspicion. If the newborn's urine showed cannabis that was reported to CSD and the results were an invasion of this agency into the lives of the mother and child. I have seen mothers be prevented from nursing their babies and/or holding them outside of a nurse's supervision, grandmothers prevented from holding their grandchildren, babies taken from mother by the state and the state also depriving mothers of custody both real and legal for cannabis. All this may still be going on in hospitals in the state of Oregon. I witnessed it in its most extreme form in Lincoln City and in Portland at the Catholic Hospital which now controls most of the hospitals in the state. This same consortium also denies care providers the ability to inform women of birth control options and abortion. Additionally,
I do know that failure to thrive is often associated with serious medical conditions such as neurological, cardiac and renal disease and also prematurity. What I would say is that the very idea of bringing this idea up to a physician might be the cause of a state investigation. I have been retired since 2003 so I do not know what the current situation is but be advised. Be wary.

Editor: I did research in this area in Oregon and have two agencies; Salem Hospital and Oregon Dept. of Human Services, saying there is no threat for cannabis using moms who deliver.  Local mothers tell another story.  Fortunately I have the two agencies on the record and have just been dragging it along like so many other stories.  If you ever want to collaborate and help get this out please let me know.  Tim King tim@salem-news.com

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