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Cannabis and Pregnancy

Key points

  • Cannabis may be bad for your baby no matter how you use it—this includes smoking, vaping, dabbing, eating or drinking, and applying creams or lotions to the skin.
  • If you are using cannabis and are pregnant, planning to become pregnant, or are breastfeeding, talk to your doctor.

Potential health effects of using cannabis during pregnancy

Using cannabis during pregnancy may affect your baby's development and put you at risk of pregnancy complications.1

Cannabis use during pregnancy can be harmful to your baby's health.1 The chemicals in cannabis (in particular, tetrahydrocannabinol or THC) pass through your system to your baby and may harm your baby's development.2

Although more research is needed to better understand how cannabis may affect you and your baby during pregnancy, it is recommended that pregnant persons do not use cannabis.34

  • Some research shows that using cannabis while you are pregnant can cause health problems in newborns, including lower birth weight and abnormal neurological development.1
  • Breathing cannabis smoke contains many of the toxic and cancer-causing chemicals found in tobacco smoke.5 THC, the psychoactive or mind-altering compound in cannabis, may also be passed to infants through secondhand smoke.6
  • The potential health effects of using cannabidiol (CBD) products during pregnancy are currently unknown.

Cannabis use while pregnant and breastfeeding

Can using cannabis during my pregnancy affect my baby's development after birth?

Although scientists are still learning about the effects of cannabis on developing brains, studies suggest that cannabis use by persons during pregnancy could be linked to problems with attention, memory, problem-solving skills, and behavior in their children later in life.789101112

Does using cannabis affect breastfeeding?

The health effects of a breastfeeding person's use of cannabis on their infant or baby are not yet fully known. We do know that chemicals from cannabis can be passed to a baby through breastmilk.2 THC is stored in body fat and is slowly released over time, meaning a baby could still be exposed even after a person has stopped using cannabis. Thus, persons who are breastfeeding are encouraged to avoid all cannabis use.4

  1. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. The health effects of cannabis and cannabinoids: current state of evidence and recommendations for research. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press; 2017. Accessed February 8, 2024.
  2. Grotenhermen F. Pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics of cannabinoids. Clin Pharmacokinet. 2003;42(4):327–360. doi: 10.2165/00003088-200342040-00003.
  3. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists Committee on Obstetric Practice. Committee opinion no. 722: Marijuana use during pregnancy and lactation. Obstet Gynecol 2017;130:e205–209. doi: 10.1097/AOG.0000000000002354.
  4. Ryan SA, Ammerman SD, O'Connor ME, et al. Marijuana use during pregnancy and breastfeeding: Implications for neonatal and childhood outcomes. Pediatrics 2018;142:e20181889. doi: 10.1542/peds.2018-1889.
  5. Moir D, Rickert WS, Levasseur G, et al. A comparison of mainstream and sidestream marijuana and tobacco cigarette smoke produced under two machine smoking conditions. Chem Res Toxicol. 2008;21(2):494-502. doi: 10.1021/tx700275p.
  6. Wilson KM, Torok MR, Wei B, et al. Detecting biomarkers of secondhand marijuana smoke in young children. Pediatr Res. 2017;81(4):589-592. doi: 10.1038/pr.2016.261.
  7. Grewen K, Salzwedel AP, Gao W. Functional connectivity disruption in neonates with prenatal marijuana exposure. Front Hum Neurosci. 2015;4;9:601. doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2015.00601.
  8. Goldschmidt L, Day NL, Richardson GA. Effects of prenatal marijuana exposure on child behavior problems at age 10. Neurotoxicol Teratol. 2000;22(3):325-336. doi: 10.1016/s0892-0362(00)00066-0.
  9. Leech SL, Richardson GA, Goldschmidt L, et al. Prenatal substance exposure: effects on attention and impulsivity of 6-year-olds. Neurotoxicol Teratol. 1999;21(2):109-118. doi: 10.1016/s0892-0362(98)00042-7.
  10. Goldschmidt L, Richardson GA, Willford J, et al. Prenatal marijuana exposure and intelligence test performance at age 6. J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 2008;47(3):254-263. doi: 10.1097/CHI.0b013e318160b3f0.
  11. Fried PA, Watkinson B, Gray R. Differential effects on cognitive functioning in 9- to 12-year olds prenatally exposed to cigarettes and marihuana. Neurotoxicol Teratol. 1998;20(3):293-306. doi: 10.1016/s0892-0362(97)00091-3.
  12. El Marroun H, Hudziak JJ, Tiemeier H, et al. Intrauterine cannabis exposure leads to more aggressive behavior and attention problems in 18-month-old girls. Drug Alcohol Depend. 2011;118(2-3):470-474. doi: 10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2011.03.004.