The rising trend of marijuana use during pregnancy, as evidenced by increasing numbers from 2.3% in 2002 to 3.84% in 2014, raises significant concerns. This uptick coincides with the legalization of marijuana in several states and the open discussion of its use. Unlike the extensively studied effects of alcohol, the impact of marijuana on developing babies during pregnancy is less understood and publicized. This lack of comprehensive data has influenced public perception, potentially underestimating the risks associated with marijuana use during pregnancy and breastfeeding.
In California and across the U.S., the percentage of women using cannabis during pregnancy climbed to about 8% in 2020, up from 3% in 2002. This increase mirrors the broader trend of marijuana legalization for recreational purposes. However, using marijuana during pregnancy or while nursing can have serious health implications. One of the primary concerns is oxygen deprivation, as smoking any substance during pregnancy can reduce oxygen supply to the fetus, leading to low birth weight and other developmental issues.
Despite these concerns, comprehensive guidelines on marijuana use during pregnancy are lacking. Research indicates that using marijuana during pregnancy can cause health problems in newborns, including low birth weight. Moreover, marijuana smoke, containing many harmful chemicals akin to tobacco smoke, can adversely affect both the mother and the baby, increasing the chances of developmental problems.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists advises against marijuana use during pregnancy and recommends that breastfeeding mothers avoid consuming or smoking marijuana, as well as exposure to second-hand smoke. THC, the active compound in marijuana, can be transferred to the baby through breast milk, much like alcohol.
Given these findings, it seems prudent for parents to avoid marijuana use during pregnancy and nursing, although conclusive evidence on the full extent of its impact is still emerging. As research continues, it is essential to consider these potential risks when making decisions about marijuana use during these critical periods.