Skip to main content

If Mom Smokes Marijuana, Does the Baby Too?

Moms and moms-to-be want what's best for their babies. To give them the best start in life they sacrifice their bodies—and their sleep—and give up a number of things. Sushi and alcohol are both on the list of things to avoid. So too, is marijuana.

"I understand that some moms seek out marijuana to relieve their morning sickness, anxiety, or pain," said Camille Fung, MD, a neonatologist with University of Utah Health. "But because existing research on the effects of marijuana on the developing brain is conflicting, the safest choice at this moment for babies whose brains are constantly developing new cells and connections should be to abstain from marijuana use."

During pregnancy babies are fed through an organ called the placenta. If a mom uses marijuana in any form while pregnant, the THC in the drug—the ingredient that gives you the "high"—can be passed through the placenta to the developing fetus. This could cause developmental delays and behavioral problems, leading to problems throughout life.

After giving birth, moms should continue to abstain from marijuana if they are breastfeeding. THC can be passed to infants through breast milk, potentially impacting brain development and growth in those crucial first few months. Also, it is not possible to "pump and dump" breastmilk when it comes to marijuana due to the fact THC is stored in body fat and can be released slowly over time.

Research into marijuana use is ongoing. But it's a complex issue with many facets, especially regarding its potential impacts on pregnancy and newborns. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the Centers for Disease Control both say that until more is known, it's best to abstain from marijuana use while pregnant and breastfeeding. After all, it's for your baby.

"As parents, we need to look longer term into our children's well-being; what choices we make today will have an impact on their future," said Fung.

Learn more about how marijuana affects pregnancy and nursing from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists