Marijuana Use During Pregnancy
What We Know & Why it Matters
Effects on Mother & Baby
Marijuana use in any form–edibles, oils, smoke, vapor–during pregnancy can alter the mother’s state of mind, which can lead to poor decision making about her health and her baby’s health. Your ability to choose what is best for you and for your baby is impaired, which can lead to unintended and serious consequences.
Women who use any marijuana during pregnancy may also have a higher likelihood of developing anemia, a lack of red blood cells, which can cause excessive fatigue, weakness, shortness of breath, and chest pain.
Before Birth: Growth & Development
Just like the food you eat or the beverages you drink, any drugs – cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, marijuana, opioids, etc. – pass through the umbilical cord into your unborn baby’s body. Marijuana contains nearly 500 chemicals, including THC, the chemical that causes the “high.”
Using marijuana during the first month of pregnancy can cause the baby to be born with part of its brain missing. Additionally, women who use marijuana during pregnancy have a 2.3 times greater risk of stillbirth.
Anything you choose to put into your body can be passed to your baby through your breastmilk, including THC, the active ingredient in marijuana. THC is stored in breast milk for up to two weeks. Chronic heavy use of marijuana results in higher levels of THC in breast milk than in the mother’s blood, and extended exposure to THC can affect your baby’s brain development. Marijuana use can also reduce the mother’s milk supply, making it difficult to adequately feed your baby.
Growth & Development
Using marijuana during pregnancy can cause your baby to be very sick at birth–the baby may be too small or premature, which makes it more likely he or she will need to be cared for in the newborn intensive care unit (NICU).
Infants whose mothers use marijuana can seem sluggish and weak and have poor feeding patterns. Research suggests that the baby’s brain and motor development can be negatively affected, leading your baby to have difficulty responding to you, increased trembling and fussiness, and high-pitched crying. You may find it difficult to soothe, feed, and comfort your baby.
Secondhand Smoke & CBD
Even secondhand smoke–whether it’s from marijuana, crack, methamphetamine, or tobacco–can harm your body. Smoke an cause your baby to cough, have trouble breathing and have nervous system problems, including seizures.
Even CBD products may contain other contaminants such as pesticides, heavy metals, bacteria, and fungus that could be harmful to a mother and her baby (U.S. Department of Health Services).
Difficulty in School
Teenagers, whose mothers used marijuana during pregnancy, can struggle with behavioral problems when they get to school-age. Your child may act out or get into trouble at school and home. Children who were exposed to marijuana during their mother’s pregnancy are also more likely to use marijuana as young adults and start using earlier than other teens.
It's Never too Late!
No matter how far along you are in your pregnancy, quitting marijuana use now will benefit both you and your baby. Contact your healthcare provider for support.