What You Need to Know About Marijuana Use and Pregnancy

Fast Facts
  • Using marijuana during pregnancy may affect your baby’s development and put you at risk of pregnancy complications.1
  • Between 2016–2017 in the United States, 7% of pregnant persons reported using marijuana in the past month.13
  • Marijuana 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.
  • The potential health effects of using cannabidiol (CBD) products during pregnancy are currently unknown.
  • If you are using marijuana and are pregnant, planning to become pregnant, or are breastfeeding, talk to your doctor.

What are the potential health effects of using marijuana during my pregnancy?

Marijuana use during pregnancy can be harmful to your baby’s health.1 The chemicals in marijuana (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 marijuana may affect you and your baby during pregnancy, it is recommended that pregnant persons do not use marijuana.3,4

  • Some research shows that using marijuana while you are pregnant can cause health problems in newborns, including lower birth weight and abnormal neurological development.1
  • Breathing marijuana smoke can also be bad for you and your baby. Secondhand marijuana smoke contains many of the same toxic and cancer-causing chemicals found in tobacco smoke.5 THC, the psychoactive or mind-altering compound in marijuana, may also be passed to infants through secondhand smoke.6

Can using marijuana during my pregnancy affect my baby’s development after birth?

Although scientists are still learning about the effects of marijuana on developing brains, studies suggest that marijuana use by persons during pregnancy could be linked to problems with attention, memory, problem-solving skills, and behavior in their children later in life.7-12

Does using marijuana affect breastfeeding?

The health effects of a breastfeeding person’s use of marijuana on their infant or baby are not yet fully known. We do know that chemicals from marijuana can be passed to a baby through breast milk.15 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 marijuana. Thus, persons who are breastfeeding are encouraged to avoid all marijuana use.14

  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.
  2. Grotenhermen F. Pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics of cannabinoids. Clin Pharmacokinet. 2003;42(4):327–360
  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:e205–9.
  4. Ryan SA, Ammerman SD, O’Connor ME; Committee on Substance Use and Prevention; Section on Breastfeeding. Marijuana use during pregnancy and breastfeeding: implications for neonatal and childhood outcomes. Pediatrics 2018;142:e20181889A.
  5. Moir D, Rickert WS, Levasseur G, Larose Y, Maertens R, White P, Desjardins S. A comparison of mainstream and sidestream marijuana and tobacco cigarette smoke produced under two machine smoking conditions.external icon Chem Res Toxicol. 2008 Feb;21(2):494-502.
  6. Wilson KM, Torok MR, Wei B, Wang L, Robinson M, Sosnoff CS, Blount BC. Detecting biomarkers of secondhand marijuana smoke in young children. Pediatr Res. 2017 Apr;81(4):589-592.
  7. Grewen K, Salzwedel AP, Gao W. Functional Connectivity Disruption in Neonates with Prenatal Marijuana Exposure. Front Hum Neurosci. 2015 Nov 4;9:601.
  8. Goldschmidt L, Day NL, Richardson GA. Effects of prenatal marijuana exposure on child behavior problems at age 10. Neurotoxicol Teratol. 2000 May-Jun;22(3):325-36.
  9. Leech SL, Richardson GA, Goldschmidt L, Day NL. Prenatal substance exposure: effects on attention and impulsivity of 6-year-olds. Neurotoxicol Teratol. 1999 Mar-Apr;21(2):109-18.
  10. Goldschmidt L, Richardson GA, Willford J, Day NL. Prenatal marijuana exposure and intelligence test performance at age 6. J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 2008 Mar;47(3):254-263.
  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 May-Jun;20(3):293-306.
  12. El Marroun H, Hudziak JJ, Tiemeier H, Creemers H, Steegers EA, Jaddoe VW, Hofman A, Verhulst FC, van den Brink W, Huizink AC. Intrauterine cannabis exposure leads to more aggressive behavior and attention problems in 18-month-old girls. Drug Alcohol Depend. 2011 Nov 1;118(2-3):470-4.
  13. Volkow ND, Han B, Compton WM, McCance-Katz EF. Self-reported Medical and Nonmedical Cannabis Use Among Pregnant Women in the United States. JAMA. 2019 Jul 9;322(2):167-169.
  14. Ryan SA, Ammerman SD, O’Connor ME; AAP Committee on Substance Use and Prevention; AAP Section on Breastfeeding. Marijuana Use During Pregnancy and Breastfeeding: Implications for Neonatal and Childhood Outcomes. Pediatrics. 2018;142(3):e20181889. Pediatrics. 2018 Aug 27:e20181889A.