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Pregnancy and Breastfeeding Pregnancy, Breastfeeding

The importance of the published findings and the emerging research regarding the potential negative effects of marijuana on brain development are a cause for concern despite the limited research and are the basis for the following recommendations:

  1. Women who are considering becoming pregnant or who are of reproductive age need to be informed about the lack of definitive research and counseled about the current concerns regarding potential adverse effects of THC use on the woman and on fetal, infant, and child development. Marijuana can be included as part of a discussion about the use of tobacco, alcohol, and other drugs and medications during pregnancy.
  2. As part of routine anticipatory guidance and in addition to contraception counseling, it is important to advise all adolescents and young women that if they become pregnant, marijuana should not be used during pregnancy.
  3. Pregnant women who are using marijuana or other cannabinoid-containing products to treat a medical condition or to treat nausea and vomiting during pregnancy should be counseled about the lack of safety data and the possible adverse effects of THC in these products on the developing fetus and referred to their health care provider for alternative treatments that have better pregnancy-specific safety data.
  4. Women of reproductive age who are pregnant or planning to become pregnant and are identified through universal screening as using marijuana should be counseled and, as clinically indicated, receive brief intervention and be referred to treatment.
  5. Although marijuana is legal in some states, pregnant women who use marijuana can be subject to child welfare investigations if they have a positive marijuana screen result. Health care providers should emphasize that the purpose of screening is to allow treatment of the woman’s substance use, not to punish or prosecute her.
  6. Present data are insufficient to assess the effects of exposure of infants to maternal marijuana use during breastfeeding. As a result, maternal marijuana use while breastfeeding is discouraged. Because the potential risks of infant exposure to marijuana metabolites are unknown, women should be informed of the potential risk of exposure during lactation and encouraged to abstain from using any marijuana products while breastfeeding.
  7. Pregnant or breastfeeding women should be cautioned about infant exposure to smoke from marijuana in the environment, given emerging data on the effects of passive marijuana smoke.
  8. Women who have become abstinent from previous marijuana use should be encouraged to remain abstinent while pregnant and breastfeeding.
  9. Further research regarding the use of and effects of marijuana during pregnancy and breastfeeding is needed.
  10. Pediatricians are urged to work with their state and/or local health departments if legalization of marijuana is being considered or has occurred in their state to help with constructive, nonpunitive policy and education for families.
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