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- Cannabis use in pregnancy has been linked with negative birth outcomes and brain development issues.
- But some people find the risk may be worth the trade-off of experiencing serious anxiety or nausea.
- Pregnant with questions? Submit your question to Anna anonymously here for nonjudgmental answers.
Earlier this year, I went so-called “Cali sober,” cutting back on alcohol and introducing more marijuana. It’s been a really positive change, with my focus, sleep, and even social life benefiting.
Now, I’m pregnant (yay!), but I don’t really want to ditch my edibles — some of my friends say they’ve helped with morning sickness, and I’d still like the option of enjoying a little buzz here and there over the next nine months. But I know there’s research showing potentially harmful effects to the fetus, and I obviously don’t want to hurt my baby.
Seems like everything (meats, coffee, and even plastics you can’t control) poses a risk in pregnancy. How bad is marijuana really?
— Jen, California
Congratulations on your pregnancy! And for making the healthy change away from booze, something we know can lead to permanent physical, intellectual, and behavioral disabilities in babies if consumed when pregnant.
It’s also pretty clear that tobacco use during pregnancy can increase the risk of premature birth, birth defects, and even infant death.
The research on cannabis use in pregnancy is less robust, and the findings less conclusive. Until it is, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists encourages abstinence, and the FDA has “strongly advised” against not just THC but also CBD use during pregnancy.
But blanket recommendations can’t get into nuances for the individual, and doctors can’t always either — in some places, even telling your provider about cannabis use could get you reported to legal authorities.
Let me summarize what some of the research does and doesn’t show, and share advice I got from two women’s health experts.
Research has linked cannabis use with negative birth outcomes
First, the research.
The most recent study — the largest of its kind to date, published in April — found that pregnant women with cannabis use disorder are more likely to deliver premature, underweight, and small-for-gestational-age babies than moms without the condition. Their babies even had a higher risk of death within the first year of life, though fortunately that was rare.
Moms who also used tobacco had worse outcomes.
Experts say these connections make sense, beyond coincidence or other factors. We know THC can reach developing children through the placenta, and newborns through breast milk. Plus, the compound can disrupt the endocannabinoid system, which plays a key role in supporting a healthy pregnancy and fetal brain development.
Published: April 26, 2021