Is Marijuana Harmful to a Pregnant Mother and her Infant?
anonymous Asks ...
My pregnant girlfriend was a pot head. Since she found out she was pregnant she has stopped smoking marijuana but she will still eat hash brownies that she makes. She will get high almost every day. She says it doesn’t harm the baby as long as she doesn’t smoke it. Is this true? I don’t want to give her a hard time because I am proud of her for stopping cigarettes and smoking pot.
Delisted Expert Says ...
First, I would like to acknowledge this young mother for taking the difficult step of stopping her smoking of cigarettes. Most people agree that cigarettes are not good for the health of the mother or baby. Here is some information about the harm of cigarette smoking on the baby:
Secondly, have you considered that your girlfriend could be dependent on marijuana? There is some controversy surrounding marijuana dependency because it is a natural substance and does not seem as harmful as the legal drug, alcohol. I have known individuals who were unable to stop smoking or using marijuana without treatment and/or 12 Step recovery. For information about marijuana dependency, go to these websites:
- There are differences between marijuana abuse and marijuana addiction. This article makes a fine distinction between the two: http://alcoholism.about.com/od/pot/a/pot_addiction.htm
As for your question about reduced harm from ingesting marijuana laced brownies in place of smoking marijuana, we must consider first if marijuana use/abuse could be harmful. There is a favorite study of people who believe that marijuana is not harmful but is helpful to children born to mothers who smoked marijuana almost daily during pregnancy. This is a link to a study by Dr. Melanie Dreher who wanted to know if pregnant women in Jamaica who smoked marijuana daily had any effect(s) on their children. Contrary to previous reports, Dr. Dreher found that children born from mothers who used marijuana were not born underweight or with birth defects. Instead, she observes positive differences in these children; such increased prosocial behavior(s), attention, improved eye contact, and easier social engagement, to mention a few.
So that you know, there is another argument against the use of marijuana by pregnant mothers, in any form, by another camp. Their claim is that the use of marijuana could harm the baby’s brain, cause hyperactivity, learning difficulties and reduced memory processing, and without any apparent birth defects. This argument can be found at this website.
So you can see there is no definitive answer for your question except by individual cases. I think the best move would be to include your girlfriend’s OB/GYN doctor in this discussion and any decisions. This doctor needs to know that your girlfriend is using marijuana in brownies daily. One reason is that the mother and baby will be tested for drugs at the time of the baby’s delivery. Hospitals often report these results to the Dept of Child and Family Services. There could possibly be legal implications for your girlfriend if the baby and she are found to be THC positive by the hospital. To avoid any future problems, it is better for her to be honest and talk to her doctor about her use of marijuana and any concerns she may have for the baby while in uterus or after delivery. Another consideration would be if your girlfriend plans to breastfeed her baby. How could the daily use of marijuana affect the practice of breastfeeding when mothers are nursing their babies?
I recognize that I have offered more details than you requested. However, this is a common and complicated problem for mothers, fathers-to¬¬-be, doctors, social workers, and hospitals. The ideal situation for babies is that the mothers not introduce anything into their bodies but good nutrition. My hope is that this information will provide you with more knowledge so your girlfriend and you can make informed decisions about this mother and baby’s health and future.
If I may of further assistance to you, please do not hesitate to contact me. I wish you and your new family every kind of success.
John W. O’Neal, Ed.S, MSW, MA, LPC, NCC