Danger: Marijuana Use During Pregnancy

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Pregnant mom holding stomach with both hands

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Using marijuana comes with risks: It can cause some health problems and increase your chances for an injury or accidents. When a pregnant woman uses marijuana, the risks increase, because her unborn baby’s birthweight or brain development could be affected.

A rising trend

Unfortunately, marijuana use during pregnancy is on the rise. Based on a 2016 government survey, 4.9 percent of pregnant women aged 12–44 had used marijuana in the previous month, compared to 3 percent in 2002.1

What’s even more concerning is the risky behavior related to both teen pregnancy and early marijuana use. According to a recent study, 14 percent of pregnant girls aged 12–17 in the United States had used marijuana in the past month. That’s more than twice the percentage of their nonpregnant peers who used it.

A risky choice

What could be causing this troubling trend? It’s possible that some women didn’t know they were pregnant when they used marijuana, and some women don’t know about the dangers of using marijuana during pregnancy. (For a reminder of those dangers, check out this blog post.)

A recent study found that 70 percent of medical marijuana shops in Colorado recommend marijuana for pregnant women in their first trimester to help with morning sickness—despite warnings from doctors.2 Morning sickness is the feeling of upset stomach and nausea that often comes with pregnancy (sometimes it lasts all day).  

But the possibility of reducing morning sickness just isn’t worth the risks that come from using marijuana during pregnancy. It’s unsafe for baby, and quite possibly for mom, too.

Learn how a pregnant woman’s misuse of opioids can affect her baby.

Sources Cited:
1. Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Special data run based on the 2002-2016 National Surveys on Drug Use and Health data.
2. Dickson B. et al, Recommendations From Cannabis Dispensaries About First Trimester Cannabis Use; Obstetrics and Gynecology Vol. 131, No. 6, June 2018, pp.1031-1038.

Find Help Near You

Use the SAMHSA Treatment Locator to find substance use or other mental health services in your area. If you are in an emergency situation, this toll-free, 24-hour hotline can help you get through this difficult time: call 1-800-273-TALK, or visit the Suicide Prevention Lifeline. We also have step by step guides on what to do to help yourself, a friend or a family member.

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