As more states legalize marijuana, the number of pregnant women who smoke marijuana is rising — and this could be really bad for babies.
In 2002, 2.3% of pregnant women used marijuana. In 2014, that number was up to 3.84%, a rise of two-thirds. To make matters worse, the amount of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in marijuana has quadrupled. THC is the active ingredient in marijuana, the chemical that gives the “high.”
We don’t know all the effects of THC on infants, but we know enough that the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has issued a statement warning parents.
THC can pass easily through the placenta and into the bloodstream of a developing baby. Studies suggest that when it does, it can affect the brain. Because babies are still developing, anything that affects that development can lead to permanent changes. THC can affect something called executive function. These are skills such as concentration, attention, impulse control, and problem solving; they are crucial skills for learning and life success. Studies also suggest that children who have prenatal exposure to marijuana may have a higher risk of substance use disorder or mental illness.
THC also passes into breast milk. That means that it’s still not okay to smoke marijuana after birth, because the brains of infants are actively developing — actually they are actively developing for the first three or so years of life. The effects of secondhand marijuana smoke on kids appear to last even longer, with possibly permanent effects on executive function continuing even through the teenage years.
As with alcohol, it’s impossible to say for sure what a safe amount is during pregnancy. The safest thing is not to use it at all, and to not take any form of it while breastfeeding or to smoke it around children. Some women use it to manage the nausea of pregnancy, but there are many other ways of managing nausea.
When you are pregnant and parenting, it’s no longer just about you. The choices you make could have a lifelong effect on your child — so make good choices.
Bible verses for today’s meditation and inspiration: Matthew E. McLaren
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11 NIV
Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God. Psalm 42:11 NIV
But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. Isaiah 40:31 NIV
The Lord will keep you from all harm— he will watch over your life; the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore. Psalm 121:7-8 NIV
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13 NIV
Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. Hebrews 11:1 NIV
Recommended contacts for prayer request and Bible study