Here’s a question from Danielle in Thornhill:
Q: Everyone’s talking about the Canadian government’s plan to legalize marijuana use. My friends all say it’s harmless – but can it have an effect on the baby if a woman uses it while pregnant or breastfeeding?
A: So glad you asked this question, Danielle. There’s a lot of misinformation out there about marijuana (cannabis), and many people are not aware of the long-term effects on babies, children and teens/young adults. There is no known safe amount of cannabis use in pregnancy and when breastfeeding.
Cannabis smoke contains many of the same harmful chemicals (over 700 of them) found in cigarette smoke. It can reduce the oxygen supply and nutrients to the fetus, and can affect the newborn with lower birth weight, lower alertness and slower growth rate. It can also cause a decreased ability for the baby to self-soothe and make them more irritable and have sleep disturbances. As the child grows, studies have linked maternal cannabis use to poorer memory and verbal reasoning skills, hyperactivity and attention deficit disorder (ADD), learning disorders, and also depression and anxiety.
When a breastfeeding mother uses cannabis, the chemical THC (the ingredient that makes the user feel “high”) passes into the breast milk and is taken into a baby’s fat cells and brain. It can be stored for weeks, and research has shown that it can cause slower motor development in the baby.
Research has shown that a young person’s brain is continuing to develop into their mid twenties. Cannabis use has been shown to cause reduced school performance, delinquency problems, hyperactivity, impulsivity and inattention.
Being high while parenting can affect your interaction with your child, causing you to miss your child’s cues for hunger, their need to be comforted, or to play and learn. It can also affect your ability to judge correctly and to be alert to situations that are dangerous to your child.
So as you can see, Danielle, you are right to be concerned about cannabis use during pregnancy and breastfeeding, during the parenting years and also about the effects upon our teens and young adults who use it. Contrary to what your friends have told you, it is far from “harmless”.
Nancy Lahn RN
Developer of the Cozy Cuddles Nursing Pillow
Originally posted 2017-07-11 18:00:45.