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6 Risks of Medical Marijuana When Pregnant

Whether you expected it or not, finding out you're pregnant has likely brought on a laundry list of questions...
6 Risks of Medical Marijuana When Pregnant

"Can I really not eat sushi for 10 months?!"
"What kind of exercise can I do?"
"Is a glass of wine here and there okay for the baby?"

The reality is, your body is going through some major changes to be able to grow your pregnancy, and you may need to alter your lifestyle to meet its new needs.

Some women ask the question, "Can I use marijuana when pregnant?

While marijuana is legal in many states and sometimes even used by women to combat pregnancy nausea and pain, there are six risks to consider before continuing the use of medicinal or recreational marijuana while pregnant. 

1. Issues with Neurological Development

Studies show that babies born to women who have used marijuana during their pregnancies are more likely to have neurological development problems. Some babies born after prenatal use of marijuana show symptoms like slow responses to visual stimuli exaggerated trembling, or an unusually high-pitched cry.1  

2. Low Birth Weight

Another harmful effect of the use of marijuana during pregnancy includes physical developmental issues which can result in low birth weight and other neonatal complications.2

3. Can Cause Harm to the Woman During Pregnancy

In addition to having negative side effects on the health of the baby, using marijuana can also impact the health of the woman carrying the pregnancy. Studies show that marijuana can increase heart rate, decrease blood pressure, and cause dizziness, anemia, or confusion during pregnancy.

4. Impacts on Learning and Social Skills Later in Life

The use of marijuana can impact babies long after birth. Studies have linked the use of marijuana during pregnancy to long-lasting inabilities to focus, problem-solve, and behave normally in social settings later on in the child's life.3

5. Exposure to Chemicals

While marijuana is a plant, there are more than 400 active chemicals in some strands. When used by a pregnant woman, these chemicals can reach pregnancy through the placenta, leading to unnecessary and potentially harmful chemical exposure in utero.

6. Increased Reliance on the Substance

Women who use marijuana before or during their pregnancy may develop a dependency on the drug. Recent studies revealed that 30% of individuals who use marijuana may develop a marijuana use disorder — meaning they may experience a dependency on the substance and go through withdrawals without use.4  Babies could then be exposed to THC through breastfeeding, which could have long-lasting negative impacts on their young, developing brains.

Pregnant and not sure what to do? We can help!

Finding out you're pregnant can bring about feelings of worry and anxiety. From wondering if you're ready to parent to knowing how to keep you and your baby healthy, there's a lot to navigate. Thankfully, you're not alone.

Here at the Open Arms Pregnancy Clinic, we provide women with free and confidential pregnancy testing, ultrasound, options counseling, and pregnancy classes so that you can move forward with confidence.


Photo by Ömürden Cengiz on Unsplash

  1. De Moraes Barros MC, Guinsburg R, Mitsuhiro S, Chalem E, Laranjeira RR. Neurobehavioral profile of healthy full-term newborn infants of adolescent mothers. Early Hum Dev. 2008;84(5):281-287. doi:10.1016/j.earlhumdev.2007.07.001
  2. Conner SN, et al. (2016). Maternal marijuana use and adverse neonatal outcomes: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Obstet Gynecol. 128(4): p. 713-23.
  3. Richardson GA, Ryan C, Willford J, Day NL, Goldschmidt L. Prenatal alcohol and marijuana exposure: effects on neuropsychological outcomes at 10 years. Neurotoxicol Teratol. 2002;24(3):309-320.
  4. Hasin DS, Saha TD, Kerridge BT, et al. Prevalence of Marijuana Use Disorders in the United States Between 2001-2002 and 2012-2013. JAMA Psychiatry. 2015;72(12):1235-1242. doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2015.1858

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