In an effort to provide you the most comprehensive information on what the medical establishment believes about pregnancy, lactation, and the use of marijuana here is a second article on the subject. If you are considering the use of marijuana as you are carrying a child or breastfeeding please research this information and more. The general consensus is there simply is not enough definitive research on the topic to legitimize safely using it. Long term studies have not been conducted to the satisfaction of the medical establishment. Read, think, speak with those whom you respect, come to your own decision.
Marijuana Use During Pregnancy & Breastfeeding
As more states legalize marijuana for recreational or medical use, a growing number of women are using the drug while they’re pregnant or breastfeeding. Some even seek it out for severe morning sickness after seeing internet claims that it can ease nausea. But, is it safe?
The Risks: What We Know Now
No amount of marijuana has been proven safe to use during pregnancy or while breastfeeding. Research is limited, but the studies that have been done provide enough cause for concern.
Where we stand
Therefore, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) clinical report, “Marijuana Use During Pregnancy and Breastfeeding: Implications for Neonatal and Childhood Outcomes” recommends women who are pregnant or breastfeeding avoid marijuana use. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) also recommends that obstetrician-gynecologists counsel women against using marijuana while trying to get pregnant, during pregnancy, and while they are breastfeeding.
FACT: With marijuana now legal for medical or recreational use in more than half of U.S. states, statistics show its use rising. Marijuana use among pregnant women rose from 2.3% in 2002 to 3.84% in 2014, nationally, representing a 67% increase.
Marijuana and the developing brain
- Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)―the compound in marijuana mostly responsible for its psychoactive effects―has been shown to cross the placenta and enter the brain of the developing fetus during pregnancy. Once in a baby’s system, according to the AAP clinical report, it can “hijack” normal nerve cell growth that happens in the developing brain.
Possible effects of prenatal marijuana use
In some studies, prenatal marijuana exposure has been linked with increased tremors and startle reflexes in newborns and a possibly higher risk of substance use disorder and mental illness among teens and adults. Other studies identify possible links between marijuana exposure and a child’s neurodevelopment and cognitive functions such as problem-solving skills, memory, visual perception, behavior, attention, executive function, and impulse control.
The AAP is calling for additional research so that we can better understand how prenatal marijuana exposure affects our children―at every stage of their lives.
Today’s marijuana: stronger than before
- Another concern is that child growth and behavior differences possibly linked to marijuana use during pregnancy are largely based on studies conducted when the average THC concentration in the drug was much lower than it is today. Samples studied have more than quadrupled in THC levels since the 1980s. Whether marijuana is smoked, vaped, or consumed in edibles and drinkables, the amount of THC reaching a fetus and newborn may be a lot higher than in the past.
Marijuana use and breastfeeding
- If you are breastfeeding, don’t use marijuana. You may pass the chemicals from marijuana to your baby through breastmilk. A study in the September 2018 Pediatrics confirms earlier findings that THC can transfer into breastmilk. The AAP also reminds that a mother’s ability to care for an infant may be impaired while using marijuana.
Marijuana vs. tobacco
- Studies show that between 48% and 60% of marijuana users continue during their entire pregnancy, thinking it’s safer than tobacco. However, research also shows that when marijuana is smoked, carbon monoxide blood concentrations in the pregnant woman are 5 times higher than those when tobacco is smoked. This can mean less oxygen to be available for the fetus.
Passive or secondhand smoke can be as much a concern with marijuana as it is with tobacco. Studies show infants can be exposed to marijuana by inhaling it when the drug is smoked near them.
Marijuana and morning sickness
- Chemotherapy-related nausea is a qualifying condition in most states with legalized medical marijuana. Although many women experience nausea during pregnancy, the use of medical marijuana in this specific case has never been studied or determined to be safe.
Child welfare law
- The Child Abuse and Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) requires all states to have reporting policies and procedures for when newborns and other children are exposed to illegal substances. Because marijuana is still illegal under federal law, CAPTA applies to marijuana exposure in all states regardless of the legal status of marijuana use by adults in each state.