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With the legalization of marijuana in more and more states, some worry this will create the perception that marijuana is a safe drug. And for some pregnant women who have smoked marijuana prior to becoming pregnant, the concern is they will continue to use this drug throughout their pregnancy. But how dangerous is marijuana, really?

Before we review the effects marijuana may have on a mother and her developing baby, it is important to note that most of the studies done were limited by a few things. For starters, pregnant women who smoke marijuana are also much more likely to do lots of other things too—like drink alcohol, smoke cigarettes, use other drugs, and have limited access to prenatal care. Therefore, it can be difficult to know what was the direct result of marijuana and what was related to all these other high-risk behaviors.

However, from what we do know, marijuana in pregnancy is far from safe. Some evidence shows that babies born to moms who use marijuana are more likely to be born abnormally small and have trouble breathing when they are first born. In addition, babies less than six months old who were exposed in utero are at higher risk for developing wheezing, chest infections, and asthma. The risk of SIDS was also higher in these babies.

When it comes to brain development, from what we can tell, marijuana does a baby no favors. When these babies become preschoolers, they tend to have poorer verbal and memory skills and are less focused when it comes to play. They also exhibit more hyperactive behaviors and are more likely to have depression or anxiety when they are older.

One of the most concerning effects of marijuana on these babies is that they themselves are at a significantly increased risk of using illicit drugs and alcohol when they are older. It is hard to say if this is directly related to their in-utero marijuana exposure versus the effects of being raised in a household where the parents use drugs, but suffice it to say this is not what most parents want for their babies.

Lastly, there is also some suggestion of an increased risk of certain cancers in children born to moms who smoke marijuana. These include certain types of leukemia, rhabdomyosarcoma, and astrocytomas (brain tumors). Again, the research is far from strong, but these are concerning findings that need to be investigated further.

There are concerning reports of contaminants found in marijuana, from fungus to organophosphate pesticides to glass beads. Keep in mind that smoking marijuana also exposes a pregnant woman and her baby to hundreds of potentially dangerous chemicals, and these all cross the placenta and go to the baby. If you are currently pregnant and using marijuana, let your doctor or midwife know so you can come up with a plan together that will help you and your baby stay healthy.

Takeaways

  • Studies looking at marijuana in pregnancy are hard to do since women who smoke marijuana often engage in many other high-risk behaviors as well.
  • Smoking marijuana exposes a pregnant woman and her baby to hundreds of chemicals, and these all cross the placenta and go to the baby.
  • Some evidence shows that babies born to moms who use marijuana are more likely to be born abnormally small and have trouble breathing.
  • Children born to moms who smoked marijuana in pregnancy are much more likely to use illicit drugs when they are older.

References

  1. United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. Cannabis: a short review.
  2. Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine. Cannabis and its derivatives: Review of medical use.
  3. University of Washington Alcohol and Drug Institute. Learn about marijuana.

Does this answer your question? If not, Ask Bundoo.

Comments

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  1. As with everything during Pregnancy to include drinking alcohol the key is moderation as long as you are not getting drunk or high all the time and just having a beer or glass of wine a cpl times a week you are actually doing the baby good as with Cannabis once or twice a week is not going to do any harm

  2. This is soooo poorly researched..The fact of the matter is, A LOT of mother who use marijuana are NOT using drugs or alcohol while pregnant, if they were, yes, this article would be accurate because all the negative effects this doctor mentions is from drug use, cigarette use and alcohol use NOT marijuana by itself. I used marijuana during my pregnancy because I had hyperemesis and prescription medicine did not help, I was extremely dehydrated and if I had continued the way I was going my baby would have been malnourished. Needless to say I used marijuana until the hyperemesis passed and I had an extremely healthy 9 lb 2oz baby born at 42 weeks, who is now an extremely adavanced, extremely smart 8 year old! I did NOT smoke cigarettes, I did NOT do drugs and I did NOT drink alcohol

    1. Also my son is very healthy and barely ever get sick. My middle child I didn’t use marijuana during pregnancy, he is 5 now and although he is very smart and enjoys school and schoolwork, he had an IEP for speech delay, he gets sick all the time despite being breastfed for almost 3 years, and is such a peanut. Coincidence? Maybe, maybe not.

  3. Wow your research needs to be more focused on just marijuana use before you write anything. Most of that comes with cigarette smoking and alcohol abuse. They have no solid proof of harm from smoking marijuana. Granted heavy use on anything is not good. But if you don’t have solid facts then you should not have printed this article. Most of those side affects come from cigarette and alcohol abuse, if not all of them. If you are going to print something like this again please do the proper study.

    1. Thank you!

  4. This article is nonsense!! Every single weed smoker I know (and I know many) barely drink alcohol!! Its already assuming a pregnant mom who smokes weed occasionally DRINKS and SMOKES, that is totally ridiculous. All credibility was lost right there. There is no proof of that, just assumptions. Moderation is key for anything, use common sense!

  5. This article is a load of crap.first off I smoked marijuana my whole pregnancy it helped me quit cigarettes. Secound off my baby was 11 lbs 1.2 oz 21 inches long and she was already smiling on her secound day alive. Third off my child is noe in 2nd grade she has had no problems she’s in advanced math and reading technical if you actually study this you will find out your article is wrong and I think you are stupid for trying to brain wash people into thinking marijuana is some awful substance it’s not our founding fathers smoked it while writing the constitution grew fields of it I Mean fields and the constitution is written on hemp paper the real reason pot was called a bad drug is because of the money dupont wanted to make a plastic rope and every used hemp for rope in those days the only way they were going to make more money was to get rid of pot bulls hit read up on your shit before you talk

  6. I signed in just to comment on this particular discussion im not even pregnant. I have had three children two of which i smoked weed with and one i did not and the two that i did smoke with are extremely smart. My youngest is almost 3 and has been off the bottle at age 1 potty trained, saying her abc’s and counting to 10 by the age of 2 now the things she does reminds me of a 5yr old anywhere and everywhere we go people always comment on how smart she is for her age she starts preschool in October my other child plays all kinds of musical instruments and is at the top of his class. And the one i didnt smoke with has all the mental issues you are talking about. So why people want to say smoking hurts your child, iv got two that will prove you wrong.

  7. Im not saying that it is ok to smoke while pregnant but I know a few people who have and there children are very smart and attentive and they where not drinking or doing other drugs either..this post is not very informative they have no real facts that marijuana is dangerous

  8. This is the BEGGEST crock of **** ive heard in my life. “Many chemicals” well Einstein would u like to tell me the other chemicals found in marijuana aside from THC? Which does more good than harm to the human body…. if you’re going to write an artical at least have factual evidence and not some bull **** that kermit the frogs wiki page says. I think its safe to say you have extremely embarrassed yourself.

    1. Wouldnt let me edit but it was supposed to say “biggest”

  9. Thts bs..tht ain’t nothing but guessing…my babymom..smoked from all 4 of are sons…no problems what’s so ever nd they are now 10,11,12,nd 13 all healthy Sports stars in the growing..all A and B students …like they said ones they studied was more likely doing other stuff…from experience There was no issues what’s so ever wit the births on my 4 sons….stuff like this makes me sick…just to scare ppl Nd trying control Are lives….just my opinion..don’t get mad…js

  10. This should be taken down !! next time you write an article write an article with facts and actual studies that prove what you’re saying because this is just BS

  11. I think that writing about this before enough studies were done was a bad idea.

  12. I would never smoke anything while pregnant…it isn’t worth it!

  13. We’re headed to Denver on vacation and decided ahead of time that my pregnant wife won’t use. After some research we determined that using marijuana a few times during pregnancy is probably ok but in the end is it really worth the risk? Some studies suggest periodically drinking a glass of wine during pregnancy is fine too.

  14. Ok, let me tell you why this article is completely contradictory of itself in everyway. For one, if its hard to do an actual study on women who use it, because they use other drugs, THAT MAKES ALL YOUR ‘EVIDENCE’ TAINTED. You cant do a scientific experiment without women who dont smoke, women who do and women who do more than just this plant. Sorry but drugs are man made substains, marijuana is made completely by nature. And what are these ‘hundreds’ of chemicals youre talking about? This isnt cigarettes they dont add hundreds of chemicals to get you addicted and to preserve it, unlike tobacco. Furthermore, how can you publish a ‘scientific’ article if you did absolutely no field research? Without an experiment, there is no proof. This is all based off of what other smoked substances do, minus the extreme birth defects. I hope you lose your license for publishing a false article without scientific proof, thats what we call Suedo-science and though the US government approves, the scientific community does not. This article made me mad, instead of ensuring me my friend should quit smoking. -.-

  15. I would this was a no brainer, but I guess other people may need more data. I’m not even anti-marijuana, but I don’t see how it could remotely benefit your growing baby.

  16. I wonder if they are going to do more research on this

  17. So do your research they do say above thats lost of moms that smoke also do other drugs and I know for a fact its the other things the moms are doing thats harming there baby bc of out out dated laws and prohibition the usa hasn’t done alot of studies of cannabis use by its self and until you separate out all the other drugs you will never have a accurate study just bc you read it only doesn’t make it true or accurate

  18. im actually quiet pissed off about this article. how can you right an article on how marjuana effects pregnancy when you dont even have real research. you cant say marjuana effects preegnancy when your saying most of these parents use other drugs and drink ect.. obviously all of those things have a larger effect on the baby. i just want to put out there. i do smoke marjuana. nut ONLY SMOKE MARIJUANA. i do not smoke ciagettes, i do not use any drugs and i may have an alcoholic drink 4 times a year. but i smoke weed multiple times a day, every day. it helps with stress, anxiety among other things. i function perfectly fine. take care of my children and run my at home business. i have two children. i had my daughter before i had starting smoking. she does have asthma and she also has what is known as childhood tics. my son i had a few years after when i did smoke. i just cut down on how much i smoked daily but i still smoked at least once a day with my pregnancy. my son not only was a week late and i had to be induced we was perfectly healthy and on the chubby side. he is not 5 and still in perfect health. no breathing problems no health issues. and is one of the smartest in his preschool class and will sit at our kitchen table and do homework worksheets on his own while his big sister does her homework. i love my children to death and anyone that comments negatively can kiss my ass. i did much research when i heard first found out i was pregnant how studies that were done in Jamaica and other countries where you are free to smoke and read on studies they did for years where they followed women before during and after there pregnancies and all there babies were happy healthy and some slightly calmer but nothing like what this article says so i really think all these so called “facts” are complete bull

  19. Accually it doesn’t harm the baby… I have my medical card my dr. Saod not to stop smoking in fact all of my children are excelling in intelligence. My oldest is 7he is a grade ahead of his class mates in his work my 4year old has the voice of a grown woman when she sings and my youngest who is 2 can already write his abc so I think y’all should get over it marijauna is part of the worlds future we all no know the resection wil end. And children will grow like no other….personally I know 3people who didnt smoke or do any drugs while pregnant and one of them being my mother in law my husbands heart is backwards and on the right side..one of the other girls already lost her baby and she didn’t smoke at all in her life… and my other friend her baby has had heart problems again she didnt smoke ….. there is no proof they only want u to think so so they can sensor u…. have a good night

  20. This is total bs all these doctors have never even.seen a baby born after a mother smokes marijuana i smoked weed the whole time i was pregnant with all 3 of my children and all of my children are in perfect health were all over 8lds and are smart as a whistle so this shit they are talking is bologna I had to smoke to.keep my nausea down and be able to eat so this is total bs and these doctors have no.common sense at all what so ever they need to.do.more research on this thanks

  21. So basically this was an article of assumptions?

  22. I think they need to ask the women that are pregnant not just assume!! Article is completely opinion based … To the person who wrote the article have u been pregnant and smoked marijuana before have u watched ur children and done scientific studies on them… Oka that’s what I thought when u have studies done for years then write an article! Goodday

  23. Not that I’m proud of it but I did smoke 3 times while pregnant. I never had touched any other drugs or alcohol while pregnant and had great prenatal care. I suffer from generalized anxiety with panic attacks. I got severely depressed b/c I couldn’t take my medication while pregnant. My son is 3.5. He did pre testing for school and they have told me he is very advanced. He extremely articulate and uses advanced words. He is as tall as an average 5 year old. He has never had any issues described in this article. I think more controlled studies need to be done before posting any “results”

  24. “The study – led by Dr. Melanie C. Dreher – followed 59 Jamaican children for 5 years following birth and fail to identify any negative difference in development between children of mothers who used cannabis and those who did not. On the other hand, the study revealed a beneficial effect of maternal marijuana use at 30 days old, when the infants scored higher on measures of nervous system stability and reflexes.”(as cited-Marijuana Use and Pregnancy: Is It Safe?) Educate before you discriminate. http://druglibrary.org/schaffer/hemp/medical/can-babies.htm http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/aristotles-child/201111/the-truth-about-marijuana-and-pregnancy/comments

    1. Yep. Exactly. I read that study before as well. This article is stereotypical bullshit with no actual facts. It’s someone’s idiotic opinion. That’s all it is.

  25. Just to clarify I’m not saying it’s good to smoke marijuana while pregnant. But I am living proof that I was not affected by the smoking my mother did with me. I was always very good at school, had high grade point averages and still do in college to this day. I do not have asthma nor any other breathing problems. I do not use illicit drugs, and I was born perfectly fine.

  26. I live in Washington and marijuana has been apart of my life ever since I can remember for medicinal use only depression, anxiety, Pain, nausea ect. I’ve smoked weed thru all my pregnancies including the one I’m currently pregnant with and all my doctors knew about it they complimented me on my blood pressure and even told me to keep smoking marijuana to lower my risk of preclancia and to help with my nausea and back pain I rather put a natural plant in my body then chemicals that are man made…my children have hit all of their developmental goals early cognitive, communication, social and motor and all were born at a healthy weight and my 5yo has no problems in school in fact his teacher is surprised about how creative he is in problem solving and art
    Weed has many health benefits it’s safer then painkillers, liquor or cigarettes no one has overdosed or died from marijuana they wouldn’t recommend cancer patients to smoke it to cure symptoms of chemo so how would this be dangerous to pregnant women? It’s a plant meaning it’s 100% natural and a holistic medicine please educate yourself.

    1. I also think it has helped my son developmentally since he is advanced for his age

    2. I couldn’t have said it any better thank you

  27. This is such a crock of crap. Pot actually can rebuild braincells if any are lost for some reason. I’ve done the research. I know none if this is true. I wouldn’t smoke while knowingly pregnant only because I live in a state where it isn’t legal yet. THIS IS PROPAGANDA!!!!!

  28. http://www.cannabis-med.org/index.php?tpl=faq&red=faqlist&id=112&lng=en it’s proven way worse to smoke legal cigarettes than weed, as Well as if they drank it as a tea their would be little to no affect you should retract this article and post several linK’s,you’re posting no fact only opinion, you’re probably making many mothers with cancer feel badly for smoking.

    1. exactly I’m a survivor and I’m a mother of going on six

  29. You honestly think just because they smoke green they’re willing to do other drugs? Have you even read the studies around the world on this subject? I had a friend who smoked until she was six months the baby was almost 10pounds and extremely healthy he seldom gets sick. I personally wouldn’t smoke, but I hear many women are prescribed weed in the first trimester to help with morning sickness. Shouldn’t you base this on fact rather than opinion?

  30. As a chronic pain sufferer, marijuana would be safer for me to use than my current medications if it were legal in my state. I am currently pregnant, and taking pain meds on an as-needed basis – which is when I can no longer tolerate the pain at all (because I obviously want to reduce the risk of harming my baby as much as possible). This article is completely misleading and I’m very disappointed that it was written with such bias.

    1. I wish you could have green, they make them in candy, food, drinks if the smoke is what people are worried about. Just hope your baby is given healthier options when they’re in similar situations.

  31. This is such a lie…a kid who uses weed is more likely to use other drugs ha,no being a bad parent and not being there for your kid makes them do drugs..and i smoked weed every now and then when i was pregnant, when i couldent eat,or sleep,back pain,or having a panic attack…i carried my kid to over 9 months,and is a big smart boy,, i think as long as its not smoked everyday all day long its not harmful. and a plus side,you can not get addicted to this..

  32. This is a great read, and gave me a lot of info on this subject. Glad to be able to know this!

    1. Its faults

  33. This article does not give hard core facts. In fact it states that it can not be conclusive since most of the mothers surveyed used other forms of drugs and tobacco. If you were to conduct a true study you should find moms who are only users of pot. I have to agree with Brad W. on this article. Worst Bundoo article I have read. There are some PupMed articles that researched women in the Bahamas who smoked while pregnant and the findings were significantly different than those shown here. I am not condoning the use of drugs while pregnant and do not support anything of that nature. However if you want to post an article lets post true facts. If you can’t produce facts, then don’t post anything. Also this article should be labeled using drugs, tabbaco, and alcohol while pregnant, not just marijuana.

  34. I have to say I am disappointed in this article. I feel it is very biased and “right wing” propaganda. This seems unlike most Bundoo articles I’ve read that are usually fact-based. Many chemicals? There are more pesticides in the produce section of your grocery store, made with GMO seeds from Monsanto! And to say that it’s a gateway drug, and people who use marijuana usually participate in other high risk things? Pot is less risky than just about anything, including alcohol. What about driving a car? That’s risky! And the thing about Cancer? Hemp has been shown to actually cure cancer. Just about everything in the typical American diet causes cancer at a higher rate; cows milk (casein), GMO chicken and beef, cigarettes.

    I’m not endorsing smoking pot while pregnant, and I don’t smoke it, but c’mon, don’t use facts you can’t prove. Don’t post such a strongly biased article when it has phrases like “hard to say” and “research is far from strong”.

    1. Hi Brad, sorry to have set you off! I tried to make it clear that our research is definitely not great in this area but when it comes to being extra cautious in pregnancy – which we always are – we use common sense and err on the side of caution. And I agree with you – I do not believe it’s always a gateway drug. You can also check out my references (which are all accessible online) if you want more info!

      1. To be extra cautious you would never right a article with out proper research you are exactly what is wrong with this country

    2. I concur, you’d think they’d have done a study or atleast looked up many other countries who have and have found weed completely harmless and infant safer thn all other medication given to women while pregnant. Honestly this article is slander, aswell as the fact it’s 100% opinion, they should feel compelled to not only retract this article but to apologize for the lies.

    3. I agree. While I also don’t endorse smoking pot while pregnant I find this article to be total crap. I’ve actually read a lot of studies about this and most say that babies whose moms smoked moderately (not all day everyday) actually had babies who were MORE alert and engaging at birth., and who exhibited greater social skill. This article says the opposite and makes it seem like all babies exposed to pot will be dumb. So stereotypically bias. As is also to that someone who smokes marijuana during pregnancy (typical to ward off nausea) “is most likely doing other things like drinking alcohol, smoking cigarettes and doing other drugs”. Really?! Not at all true. Wow!

    4. I agree with you Brad, although i do not condone smoking while pregnant there are far worse things that you can consume & one of those things is the GMO products, its a well known fact that GMO causes health issues & there ARE more pesticides in our fruits & vegitables than most know. The risks of harm to you & your baby are greater than most think they are & its up to us to do the right thing.

  35. Wow, this is awful. Totally not worth putting your child’s health at risk.

    1. Whats awful is the blatant lies they are feeding you