Natural doesn’t always mean safe. Obviously, some mushrooms can be poisonous, and tobacco has a number of carcinogens, but even commonly consumed plants can make a person quite ill. Rhubard stems are often used in pies, but eating their leaves can cause internal bleeding, coma and even death. Castor oil, commonly taken when, you know, you gotta go, but you can’t go, is made from beans that contain ricin. A single bean with the ricin still in it can be fatal to an adult in minutes. Marijuana contains many of the same carcinogens as tobacco smoke but often in concentrations several times higher than tobacco.
So, how does this stuff affect my baby? We know that THC crosses the placenta and can be found in fetal circulation at 10% of the maternal level. We also know that cannaboids, the part of marijuana that acts on the brain, can bind to fetal cannaboid receptors as early as 14 weeks of pregnancy (the beginning of the second trimester). The number of cannaboid receptors in the baby increase throughout pregnancy. Laboratory studies show that cannaboid exposure can disrupt normal brain development and function, and they can also sensitize the fetal brain to harm from alcohol exposure in women who use both substances. Children exposed to marijuana while their mother was pregnant generally score more poorly on visual tests and motor coordination testing. Additionally, exposure to marijuana in utero increases the risk of behavioral problems and decreased attention span as well as marijuana use in the child by age 14 (Sorry Mom, I was going to do my homework, but then I got high..). Lastly, marijuana use in pregnancy may result in a baby with low birth weight.
The bottom line is that marijuana use in pregnancy and breastfeeding (it is secreted in breast milk) doesn’t seem to be a good idea. So, if you are pregnant or thinking of becoming pregnant, then it’s probably a good idea to avoid marijuana. Be sure to address any non-medicinal and medicinal drug use with your doctor to help you achieve your healthiest possible pregnancy :)