Health District Clears the Air on Marijuana Use During, After Pregnancy

Health District Clears the Air on Marijuana Use During, After Pregnancy

Jun 06, 2017

New campaign, Weed to Know for Baby and You, provides facts around harms associated with use during pregnancy, breastfeeding and caregiving

For more information, contact Kim Papich, (509) 324-1539 or

SPOKANE, Wash. – As more and more data is released on the effects of marijuana on a baby—both before and after birth—there is now enough information to make moms and families think twice before using pot during and after pregnancy.

Many moms turn to marijuana for its purported relief of symptoms such as nausea and anxiety, and now that it is legal in many states, including Washington, many families are more inclined to believe its use is safe. Yet scientific research is emerging that identifies associated risks. 

Confusion over the safety of these products during pregnancy and after prompted Spokane Regional Health District (SRHD), in collaboration with Spokane County’s Birth Outcomes Task Force, which includes participation by CHAS Health, Greater Spokane Substance Abuse Council, Providence Health Care, Rockwood Health Systems, Spokane County Medical Society, Washington State Department of Social and Health Services’ Children’s Administration, and Washington State University College of Nursing to launch a new component to its popular Weed to Know campaign—Weed to Know for Baby and You.

The campaign and its associated materials educate families and caregivers about harms associated with marijuana use while pregnant, breastfeeding, or caring for children. The easy-to-understand content and approachable images help convey results from several peer-reviewed studies, including:

Marijuana use during pregnancy could:

  • Cause a baby to be born before his or her body and brain are ready. This could mean serious health problems at birth and throughout life.
  • Change how a baby’s brain develops. These changes may cause life-long behavior problems like trouble paying attention or following rules.
  • Lower a child’s IQ, cause problems with learning and memory, and make it harder for them to do well in school. 

Marijuana use during breastfeeding is associated with these risks:

  • Feeding problems, as tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, can lower milk supply. It can also make a baby less willing to eat, which could lead to slow weight gain and growth.
  • Increased risk for sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

Using marijuana can affect a person’s ability to safely care for a baby or other children. This is because marijuana use decreases a person’s ability to concentrate, impairs judgement, and slows response time.

“We hear all the time from mothers who feel they used marijuana ‘successfully’ in previous pregnancies, or know someone who did, but it is also likely the child is not old enough yet to exhibit the long-term health consequences,” said Melissa Charbonneau, a public health nurse in the health district’s Children and Youth with Special Health Care Needs program. “To be on the safe side, your best bet is to avoid marijuana altogether while you're expecting.”

Through community partnerships, campaign materials are being widely distributed, including among health care providers to enable open conversations with patients based in fact.

The same guidance is echoed in the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists’ policy statement urging pregnant and breastfeeding women to avoid using marijuana, and the American Academy of Pediatrics also strongly advises against it.

More information can be found at SRHD’s web site offers comprehensive, updated information about Spokane Regional Health District and its triumphs in making Spokane a safer and healthier community. Become a fan of SRHD on Facebook to receive local safety and wellness tips. You can also follow us on Twitter @spokanehealth