Weed to Know for Baby & You

Providing facts around harms associated with marijuana use during pregnancy, breastfeeding, and caregiving

Summary Overview

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 marijuana during and after pregnancy. Confusion over the safety of these products during pregnancy and after prompted Spokane Regional Health District, 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 School 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.


Pregnancy

Pregnancy and Marijuana

When a pregnant mom smokes, vapes, or ingests marijuana, so does her baby.

Marijuana passes through the placenta into a baby's bloodstream. In fact, when babies are exposed to marijuana during pregnancy, they can test positive for the drug after they are born. Early studies suggest that marijuana use during pregnancy can harm a growing baby.

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 him or her to do well in school.

It's never too late in a pregnancy to quit using marijuana.

Struggling with marijuana addiction? Call the Washington State Addiction Hotline: 866.789.1511

Sources: Behnke, M. & Smith, V. (2013). Prenatal Substance Abuse: Short- and Long-term Effects on the Exposed Fetus. Pediatrics, 131(3), e1009-e1024.



Brown, H. & Graves, C. (2013). Smoking and Marijuana Use in Pregnancy. Clinical Obstetrics And Gynecology, 56(1), 107-113.



Goldschmidt, L. et al. (2008). Prenatal Marijuana Exposure and Intelligence Test Performance At Age 6. Journal of American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 47(3), 254-263.



Hayatbakhsh, M. et al. (2012). Birth Outcomes Associated With Cannabis Use Before and During Pregnancy. Pediatric RESEARCH, 71(2), 215-218



Marroun, H. et al. (2009). Intrauterine Cannabis Exposure Affects Fetal Growth Trajectories: The Generation R Study. Journal of American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 48 (12), 1173-1181.


Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding and Marijuana

Breastfeeding is a healthy and natural way to feed babies. Yet marijuana use while breastfeeding can be dangerous. This includes marijuana in any form including smoking, vaping, or ingesting it. The active ingredient in marijuana, tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, can be stored in breast milk for up to 30 days and can affect the baby. THC also builds up in the fat and blood of both mom and baby.

Marijuana use during breastfeeding is associated with these risks:

  • Feeding problems, as THC can lower milk supply. It can also make a baby less willing to eat, which could lead to slow weight gain and growth.
  • Some studies show that babies exposed to THC in breast milk may have an increased risk for sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

To give a baby the healthiest start in life, moms should avoid using any amount of marijuana while breastfeeding.

Moms or others who are struggling with marijuana addiction can call the Washington State Addiction Hotline: 866.789.1511.

Sources: Jaques, S.C. et al. (2014). Cannabis, the pregnant woman and her child. Journal of Perinatology, 34(6), 417-424.



Miller, C. (2012). Marijuana use and breastfeeding. Clinical Lactation, 3(3), 101-107.



Sachs, H. et al. (2013). The Transfer of Drugs and Therapeutics into Human Breast Milk: An Update on Selected Topics. Pediatrics, 132(3), e795-e809.


Caregiving

Parenting/Caregiving and Marijuana

Looking after infants and children requires concentration and attention - and sometimes quick reactions. Using marijuana - including smoking, vaping, or ingesting it - 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.

When it comes to parenting or caring for children, here are some other things about marijuana to keep in mind:

  • Do not drive after using marijuana. Marijuana is unsafe for someone getting behind the wheel because it compromises judgment and affects other skills required for safe driving like alertness, concentration, coordination, and reaction time.
  • Keep marijuana securely away from children and teens, such as in a locked cabinet or safe. Marijuana in bud form, edibles, and vaping oils are dangerous for children and can cause poisoning.
  • Recreational marijuana use is unsafe, and illegal, for anyone under 21.
  • Avoid using marijuana in any form when you are around children or teens.
  • For some people, high doses of marijuana can cause psychosis or panic during intoxication, which could make it difficult to care for children or intervene in an emergency.
  • Like tobacco, marijuana smoke irritates the throat and lungs. Additionally, research is still being conducted to determine if secondhand marijuana smoke is linked to cancer and lung disease.

Marijuana can be addictive. Need help quitting? Call the Washington State Addiction Hotline: 866.789.1511

Sources: Behnke, M. & Smith, V. (2013). Prenatal Substance Abuse: Short- and Long-term Effects on the Exposed Fetus. Pediatrics, 131(3), e1009-e1024.



Brown, H. & Graves, C. (2013). Smoking and Marijuana Use in Pregnancy. Clinical Obstetrics And Gynecology, 56(1), 107-113.



Goldschmidt, L. et al. (2008). Prenatal Marijuana Exposure and Intelligence Test Performance At Age 6. Journal of American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 47(3), 254-263.

Hayatbakhsh, M. et al. (2012). Birth Outcomes Associated With Cannabis Use Before and During Pregnancy. Pediatric RESEARCH, 71(2), 215-218.



Marroun, H. et al. (2009). Intrauterine Cannabis Exposure Affects Fetal Growth Trajectories: The Generation R Study. Journal of American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 48 (12), 1173-1181.



National Institute on Drug Abuse, National Institutes of Health. Marijuana: Facts parents Need to know. (Revised June 2014) NIH publication No. 14-4036. National Institute on Drug Abuse.