The Real Reason You Shouldn’t Smoke Marijuana While Pregnant

We already know that expecting mothers should never drink alcohol, especially in the first three months of pregnancy. Doing so increases the risk of miscarriage, premature birth, birth defects, and developmental issues, per the United Kingdom National Health Service.

The effects of marijuana on fetuses and newborns, however, are not as well known. Still, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), and the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine all recommend that expecting mothers do not smoke or consume marijuana.

New evidence published this month in the JAMA Pediatrics Journal further supports the notion that pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers should refrain from using marijuana.

The reason? As the study states, “Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive component of marijuana, stays in breast milk for up to six weeks.”

Scientists also found that THC crosses the placenta in the study volunteers. In other words, THC passed through the walls of the placenta and diffused into the amniotic fluid, which the fetuses absorbed.

What this research means for pregnant and breastfeeding women

Why should you be concerned about the presence of THC in the placenta or the breastmilk of new mothers? As stated by the researchers, “even low levels of THC and other cannabinoids posed potential health risks of neurological impairment and neuroendocrine disruption.” 

For those who don’t know, neuroendocrine disruptors are pollutants that can harm physiological, behavioral, or hormonal processes in humans, via the Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health.

According to the ACOG, marijuana may disrupt the brain development of the fetus. It can also increase the risk of stillbirth and the chance of going into labor too early. In young children, secondhand marijuana smoke may even cause behavioral problems and trouble staying focused in school. And with respect to fetuses, babies, and young children, medical marijuana is not safer than recreational marijuana.

So, you should add “no marijuana” to list of pregnancy and breastfeeding no-no’s, along with “don’t clean your cat’s litter box” and “avoid spicy and greasy foods.” If you are struggling to reduce your marijuana usage and you are thinking of becoming pregnant, talk to your OB-GYN.

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