Doctors advise against using marijuana during pregnancy, but many misconceptions persist. Research shows that using any form of marijuana can affect a fetus's growth and development, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Marijuana use can also affect memory, sensations, such as the appearance of colors, body movement thinking and problem solving. The drug is illegal in many places, but legal to use for medical purposes in some parts of the U.S. It is legal for recreational use in a small number of countries. People may use medical marijuana to treat nausea, pain, and muscle spasticity.
Cannabis is not recommended to treat morning sickness or for medical purposes during pregnancy. Ask a health care provider about safer options to feel better. The more cannabis is taken during pregnancy, the more it affects the baby’s developing brain. Cannabis use may also affect a mother’s health during and after pregnancy. There is no known safe amount of cannabis use during pregnancy.
If using cannabis during pregnancy, a newborn has more risk of:
- Lower birth weight
- Lower alertness
These risks can lead to health problems for a growing child. Although cannabis is a natural plant, it doesn’t make it safe during pregnancy.
Risks to a child’s brain development
Use of cannabis during pregnancy may affect a child’s brain development, behaviour and mental health into adolescence and early adulthood. The effects may be permanent. If a mother uses cannabis daily, some of the risks for the child may be:
Age 0 – 3 years:
- Difficulty calming down
- Exaggerated startles
- Sleep problems
Age 3 – 6 years:
- Poorer memory
- More impulsive
- Less attentive
- Less able to understand and follow instructions
Age 6 – 10 years:
- More hyperactive and impulsive
- More difficulty learning
- Symptoms of depression and anxiety
- More difficulty making decisions
- Less attentive
Age 14 – 18 years:
- Poorer school performance
- Delinquency problems
- May try and/or use cannabis earlier
- Continue to be hyperactive, impulsive and less attentive
Before baby arrives
Talk to your health care provider about breastfeeding. Cannabis passes into the breast milk. It can be stored in your baby’s fat cells and brain for weeks. Breastfeeding is the healthiest choice for your baby. If you need help to reduce or to stop cannabis use, ask your health care provider about support and services in your region. If you are unable to stop using cannabis completely, try using less, and less often.