Cannabis while Pregnant or Nursing: Unknown Territory

Is it just me, or does CBD seem to be everywhere these days? I was a bit shocked when we drove to visit my parents in a small Texas town in the Hill Country, only to see a CBD store on the outskirts. “Really?” I thought. “Here?” This industry has grown by leaps and bounds in a very short amount of time and science has yet to catch up to the hype.

Currently, 33 states have passed laws that legalize marijuana in some form. Eleven of those allow the recreational use of marijuana. With so many laws changing, so many products hitting the market, many women are wondering about the use of cannabis or derived products during pregnancy.

Recently, the FDA issued a caution against marijuana in any form, including CBD, use during pregnancy and breastfeeding. One major cause for concern is that THC, the main psychoactive component in marijuana, crosses into the placenta. This can affect fetal brain development. Some women use marijuana to help with intense morning sickness, especially during the first trimester, but this is also the time that baby’s brain and spinal cord is developing.

It should be noted that CBD contains very little to no THC, but studies are scant on how it may impact pregnancy. There is potential for CBD products to be contaminated with substances that may harm the fetus or breastfed baby, including THC. There are reports of CBD containing other contaminants such as pesticides, heavy metals, bacteria, and fungus. Additionally, while you may see many stores selling CBD products, not all of these are legal. Unfortunately, some are trying to make a quick buck before they get caught- so be careful!

There is some evidence that exposure during pregnancy to marijuana can increase the risk for premature birth and low birth weight. Some of these studies note that women who use marijuana during pregnancy were also more likely to smoke tobacco and drink alcohol, so it’s hard to untangle what the cause of premature birth truly is.

There is also evidence that THC can be passed into breast milk. Again, babies’ brains are growing and developing at almost lightning speed after birth, so marijuana use may cause issues with neurodevelopment down the road.

Frankly, not much is known about cannabis use during pregnancy, but the studies that exist suggest that it carries risk. Additionally, there is a lack of good and consistent regulation, inspection and safety enforcement within this booming industry. It’s grown so fast, and regulatory bodies are still deciding who will police what in regards to all marijuana-derived products. We recommend against using marijuana or CBD in any form during pregnancy or while breastfeeding until more is known. It’s not worth the risk!

  1. What You Should Know About Using Cannabis, Including CBD, When Pregnant or Breastfeeding. FDA strongly advises against the use of cannabidiol (CBD), tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), and marijuana in any form during pregnancy or while breastfeeding. FDA. Published October 16, 2019.

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