Marijuana Use During Pregnancy

By Wanda Crosby, R.N., C.C.E, VP of Medical Services

Part 1: Effects to Baby

In healthcare, new medications, treatments, and processes are always developing.  This reality makes it important to understand the facts behind new practices so that you can make the best decision when it comes to taking care of your body.  Currently, healthcare practitioners are noticing a trend of women using marijuana during their pregnancy.  Thus, we took it upon ourselves to do some research about the impact that has on you and your baby and wanted to share our insights with you.

We’ll start with identifying what we mean when we refer to marijuana in this blog –

Marijuana (Cannabis) is dried and inhaled or used in food, or teas/beverages and topical applications. Its main ingredient is known as delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is what gives the psychoactive effect or high.  It is difficult to know how much THC you are getting, due to the widely varying concentrations of the ingredient from plant to plant.  There is also synthetic marijuana known as Spice. The THC potency of spice is 500-600 times more potent than traditional marijuana.

Experts, such as, the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) advise pregnant women not to use marijuana because you are passing on the harmful ingredient TCH to your baby as it crosses the placenta barrier to the baby.

In today’s blog we’ll talk about how marijuana use during pregnancy affects the baby in the womb.

So how does marijuana use affect the baby?

It is estimated that 10-30 percent of the THC reaches the baby. It can take up to a month for a single use to be cleared from the baby’s body.

There can be multiple effects…

First, there is the increased carbon monoxide level in your blood stream when smoking pot that leads to decreased oxygen levels in the baby. That decreased oxygen can effect healthy growth and development of your child, resulting in a lower weight for the baby at the time of birth.

Then there are the effects of the THC. Studies have shown that the developing brain is very sensitive to THC during early development when the neurons are forming critical connections. Any interference with these connections can cause great detriment to a child’s decision and learning abilities.

Since the THC effects neuron development, babies born to those who use marijuana are more likely to have ADHD, anxiety, depression, and effects on higher order thinking which includes, problem solving, memory, planning, attention and controlling impulsivity. These children tend to have lower academic scores. They also, at birth, display altered responses to visual stimuli, increased trembling and a high pitch cry which is an indicator of neurological development.

What kind of time frame would I have to safely use marijuana in my pregnancy?

None at all!  Studies show that marijuana can be harmful for embryonic development as early as 2 weeks – about the time you are realize you may be pregnant.

The use of marijuana has been linked to a condition called anencephaly, where parts of the brain and skull are not developing.  This impact can be identified as early as 1 – 4 weeks in your pregnancy. It also shows that the cognitive and emotional brain centers are affected at 18-22 weeks.

We want a healthy pregnancy for you and your baby!  As you can see, marijuana poses many potential risks during this critical time for the both of you. If you still have questions or are uncertain about what to do, we encourage you to speak openly and honestly with your prenatal provider.  They are present to help you in getting the best outcome for you and your baby.

Be sure to check back for next week’s blog when we discuss how marijuana use effects the Mom during her pregnancy.


Marijuana Use in Pregnancy, Nursing for Women’s Health Oct/Nov2015
Marijuana Use during Pregnancy Affect Baby’s Brain, by Tanya Lewis Jan 27,2014
Can Marijuana Use During and after Pregnancy Harm the Baby? NIH /Marijuana
Is it Safe to Use Marijuana During Pregnancy/ The Baby Center Editorial Team/2017





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