Marijuana

INFORMATION FOR WOMEN WHO ARE THINKING OF USING, ARE USING, OR HAVE USED MARIJUANA (CANNABIS) DURING PREGNANCY OR BREASTFEEDING

The information provided below is for readers based in the United States of America. Readers outside of the United States of America should seek the information from local sources.

What is marijuana (cannabis)?

Cannabis, also known as marijuana, is the dried flowers of the plant Cannabis sativa. The principle psychoactive chemical compound in cannabis, which produces a high, is tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). But cannabis also contains hundreds of other known compounds called cannabinoids, most of which do not produce a high. The main routes for taking the drug include smoking it in hand-rolled cigarettes (known as joints), or in other devices such as pipes, and water filled pipes known as bongs. Another principle delivery route is orally as marijuana can be mixed into baked goods, such as cookies and brownies. Marijuana is the third most commonly used drug during pregnancy, after nicotine and alcohol.

Is there a safe level of marijuana that I can smoke or consume during pregnancy?

Data are too limited regarding the effects of cannabis on pregnancy to determine a safe dose. However, there have been studies associating maternal cannabis use to certain behavioral and developmental disorders during childhood, including, but not limited to, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Cannabis also is linked with preterm labor, low birth weight, and small size in the baby. Consequently, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends against using any cannabis while you are pregnant. Marijuana also may not be safe for you, particularly if smoked, as the smoke contains many chemicals in common with tobacco smoke.

Can marijuana make it harder for me to get pregnant?

Studies have yielded conflicting results as to whether cannabis use can reduce your fertility or the fertility of your partner. Since maternal cannabis use may affect the developing brain, however, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends against using cannabis while you are trying to get pregnant. 

Can marijuana cause a miscarriage?

Based on how components of cannabis are thought to affect various biological pathways, there is reason to believe that cannabis may make spontaneous abortion (miscarriage) more likely. Additionally, there is evidence from human studies supporting at least a weak association between the drug and miscarriage. Furthermore, there is a risk that marijuana use can lead to stillbirth.

Can marijuana use during my pregnancy cause a birth defect?

Studies thus far have not supported a connection between maternal cannabis and physical birth defects, but the drug does appear to interfere with brain development in subtle ways accounting for an association with behavioral issues.

Are there long-term consequences to my baby from my marijuana use?

Maternal marijuana use appears to interfere with brain development in subtle ways accounting for an association with behavioral issues.

I just found out I am 6 weeks pregnant and last weekend I smoked marijuana. Will my baby have a problem?

In all likelihood, your baby probably will be fine. There are many unanswered questions about the association between maternal cannabis use and brain development, but studies suggest that the risk of problems relates to the amount and dosage that you use. Therefore, if you used marijuana occasionally before finding out that you were pregnant, you should not worry, but you also should stop using it while you are pregnant and breastfeeding.

Is binge use of marijuana on only some days of the week as risky as using marijuana everyday but at lower amounts?

Not enough is known yet about the effects of maternal cannabis use to be able to determine whether any particular pattern of use is worse than others.

Is it ok to use marijuana after the first trimester?

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends against using cannabis at any time while you are pregnant.

Can a baby go through marijuana withdrawal after birth?

Studies have not shown neonatal withdrawal related to maternal cannabis. The main concerns regarding this drug are the potential for low birth weight, still birth, small size of the baby, and long-term effects on the developing brain.

How will I know if marijuana has hurt my baby?

You wouldnt know for sure because every pregnancy begins with a 2 – 3.5 percent chance of a birth defect, independent of any drug use. Thus, even the baby were born with a problem, and even if you did everything correctly, except for using cannabis, you wouldnt know that the problem resulted from the drug.

Is there any hope for a baby who has been exposed to marijuana throughout pregnancy?

Yes. In all likelihood, the baby will be fine. However, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends against using any cannabis while you are pregnant, because of the possibility that the drug will have long-term effects on the developing brain. 

Can I use marijuana while breastfeeding?

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends against using marijuana while you are breastfeeding as some amount of THC enters breast milk. Furthermore, THC is stored in fat, so it continues entering breast milk long after you stop using cannabis, especially if you are losing weight which releases THC from the fat as it breaks down. Additionally, marijuana smoke contains many of the same agents as tobacco smoke, so it is not healthy to expose the baby to it.

What if the father of the baby uses marijuana prior to conception?

There is some concern about a possible connection between paternal cannabis use and the development of schizophrenia in the child.

Resources for marijuana use in pregnancy:

For more information about marijuana during pregnancy, contact http://www.womenshealth.gov/ (800-994-9662 [TDD: 888-220-5446] or check the following links:

 

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General information

It is very common for women to worry about having a miscarriage or giving birth to a child with a birth defect while they are pregnant. Many decisions that women make about their health during pregnancy are made with these concerns in mind.

For many women these concerns are very real. As many as 1 in 5 pregnancies end in a miscarriage, and 1 in 33 babies are born with a birth defect. These rates are considered the background population risk, which means they do not take into consideration anything about the health of the mom, the medications she is taking, or the family history of the mom or the baby’s dad. A number of different things can increase these risks, including taking certain medications during pregnancy.

It is known that most medications, including over-the-counter medications, taken during pregnancy do get passed on to the baby. Fortunately, most medicines are not harmful to the baby and can be safely taken during pregnancy. But there are some that are known to be harmful to a baby’s normal development and growth, especially when they are taken during certain times of the pregnancy. Because of this, it is important to talk with your doctor or midwife about any medications you are taking, ideally before you even try to get pregnant.

If a doctor other than the one caring for your pregnancy recommends that you start a new medicine while you are pregnant, it is important that you let them know you are pregnant.

If you do need to take a new medication while pregnant, it is important to discuss the possible risks the medicine may pose on your pregnancy with your doctor or midwife. They can help you understand the benefits and the risks of taking the medicine.

Ultimately, the decision to start, stop, or change medications during pregnancy is up to you to make, along with input from your doctor or midwife. If you do take medications during pregnancy, be sure to keep track of all the medications you are taking.


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