Pregnancy and pot do not mix

There are a lot of concerns during pregnancy. Parents usually want to do everything right to give their new baby every possible advantage for good health and well being, to grow and develop on time and do well in life. Concerns are raised at this time regarding marijuana use during pregnancy.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) reported in April that one study found 20 percent of women age 24 and younger screened positive for marijuana, more through drug testing than self-reporting. The report also states that non-medical personnel at some marijuana dispensaries have recommended marijuana to pregnant women for nausea. Medical experts warn against this. And we will explain why, beginning with the fact that many substances pass through the placenta from the mother to the fetus.

“Estimates suggest that about five percent of pregnant women use one or more addictive substances. Regular use can cause neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) in which the baby goes through withdrawal at birth.” Also, animal (not human) studies indicate miscarriage can occur. Some links to developmental and hyperactivity disorders in children have been found. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommend that women not use marijuana when trying to get pregnant, during pregnancy and while breastfeeding. Going a step further the Food and Drug Administration advises that pregnant women should not use any vaping product regardless of the substance being used.

NIDA also reports that more research is needed regarding marijuana and pregnancy. Over the past decade there has been significant increase in the number of pregnant women seeking substance use disorder treatment for marijuana use.

Women who use marijuana during pregnancy and breastfeeding are putting their newborns at 2.3 times greater risk of still birth, NIDA states. Because the chemicals – particularly THC – are stored in body fat, so even when the mother stops using the harmful substances, the baby can be at risk of exposure to the effects of the drug on them. Long term effects include birth defects, low birth weight, premature birth, small head circumference, and SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome.) Women who smoked and/or drank past the first trimester of pregnancy are at 12 times greater risk for SIDS than those who do not.

There is more. There could be neurological development problems and, in school, children are more likely to show gaps in problem-solving skills, memory and ability to remain attentive. Again, more research is needed as these things may be associated with a mother’s use of other drugs or the home environment. The child who has experienced exposure during his mother’s pregnancy is at greater risk of the child using marijuana as a young adult.

In the matter of medical marijuana, it is important for the mother to address these issues with her health care provider and the child’s pediatrician for the health and well being of both the mom and the child.


Addiction has no address, but Family Recovery Center does. For more information about the education, prevention and treatment programs for substance abuse and related behavioral issues, contact the agency at 964 N. Market St., Lisbon; phone, 330-424-1468; or e-mail, info@familyrecovery.org. Visit the web site at www.familyrecovery.org. Family Recovery Center is funded in part by Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services.


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