Controversial Topic:

Often, in the field of infant care, there are topics about which many disagree.   Currently the major medical authorities with in our industry do not recommend the use of marijuana for women who are pregnant or lactating.  There are no doubt individual practitioners and doctors who believe this this practice to be acceptable.  However, announcing this publicly would not be wise.  Over the next few entries I will be providing articles evaluating this topic.  Please review them and come to your own conclusion.  I would love to hear your thoughts.





The use or abuse of either illegal or prescription drugs during pregnancy can affect health outcomes for both mother and infant. In 2013, 19.8 million individuals reported using marijuana within the last month.1 With the rise in legalization of recreational and medical marijuana across the United States, there is potential for increased use among pregnant women. The prevalence of marijuana use during pregnancy ranges 2-27% depending on the population and method of detection.1

Marijuana refers to the dried leaves, flowers, stems, and seeds from the hemp plant, Cannabis sativa, and can be smoked, consumed or inhaled as vapor (“dabbing”) to produce a high. Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the main active chemical in marijuana. Some evidence has shown that babies who drink breast milk containing THC absorb and metabolize THC.1,2 However, there is inconsistent data on the ability of THC to cross the placenta during pregnancy and the specific effects of marijuana use on infants during lactation and breastfeeding.4

March of Dimes recommends that women do not use marijuana during pregnancy or breastfeeding. There is no known safe amount of marijuana use during pregnancy.  Some research as found an association between marajuana use during pregnancy and poor birth outcomes including preterm birth, stillborn, low birth weights and impaired brain development.  However, other studies have not found these assiciations   The specific effects of marijuana on pregnancy and the developing fetus are uncertain, in part because some individuals use other drugs, including tobacco, alcohol, or illicit drugs that are associated with adverse outcomes.  The March of Dimes recommends that women who are pregnant contemplating pregnancy should not use marijuana.  Additional research is needed to further examine how use of marijuana impacts risk for poor outcomes for women and infants.

March of Dimes opposes policies and programs that impose punitive measures on pregnant women who use or abuse drugs.

In some states, policymakers have proposed punitive measures for women who use or abuse drugs during pregnancy. The March of Dimes believes that targeting women for criminal prosecution or forced treatment is inappropriate and will drive women away from prenatal care vital both for them and their children. Health care providers should counsel women about the potential consequences of marijuana use during pregnancy.

1. Metz, T., Stickrath, E. Marijuana use in pregnancy and lactation: a review of the evidence. American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology 2015;1-18
2. Conner et al. Maternal Marijuana use and Neonatal Morbidity. American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology(2015), doi:10.1016/j.ajog.2015.05.050.
3. CDPHE. Marijuana Use During Pregnancy and Breastfeeding Findings Summary. August 2014.                                                                                                                                     4. Committee on Obstetric Practice. Marijuana Use During Pregnancy and Lactation, Committee Opinion No. 637. American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology(2015); 126:234- 238

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