Is Marijuana Use During Pregnancy and Nursing Safe for Babies?


The rising trend of marijuana use among pregnant women is a topic of concern, especially considering the potential health risks it poses to developing babies. In 2002, approximately 2.3% of pregnant women used marijuana, which increased to 3.84% by 2014, marking a significant rise. Furthermore, the potency of marijuana has also increased, with the amount of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) quadrupling over time.

Is Marijuana Use During Pregnancy and Nursing Safe for Babies?

In California and across the United States, the usage of cannabis during pregnancy mirrors the overall increase in its recreational use due to legalization. By 2020, an estimated 8% of pregnant women, or about 1 in 12, reported using cannabis during pregnancy, up from 3% in 2002. This rise occurs despite growing concerns about its effects on fetal development.

Several studies have been conducted to understand the impact of marijuana use during pregnancy. The Ottawa Prenatal Prospective Study, initiated in 1978, followed approximately 200 children of marijuana users into adulthood. Similarly, the U.S.-based Maternal Health Practices and Child Development Study has been observing 580 children of marijuana users up to age 14. The Generation R study is tracking nearly 8000 children for long-term effects.

While the government provides guidelines for alcohol consumption during pregnancy, comprehensive data on marijuana’s impact is still lacking. Researchers like Kim and Torri Metz emphasize the need for more extensive research to understand the effects of cannabis on different populations, including pregnant women.

Health concerns associated with marijuana use during pregnancy and nursing are significant. Smoking anything during pregnancy, including marijuana, can deprive the fetus of oxygen, potentially leading to lower birth weights and developmental issues. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists advises against marijuana use during pregnancy and breastfeeding. They caution that THC can pass into the baby through breastfeeding, similar to alcohol.

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It’s also noteworthy that smoking tobacco, e-cigarettes, or marijuana during pregnancy increases the risk of health problems for the unborn baby. These risks include premature birth, low birth weight, and damage to developing lungs and brain.

Given the lack of conclusive evidence and potential risks, it is advisable for parents to avoid using marijuana during pregnancy and nursing. While more research is needed to fully understand the impact, the current evidence suggests caution is warranted.

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