Cannabis: The effects during pregnancy

Pregnant individual covering her mouth. Feeling nauseous.It has now been a little over a year since the legalization of non-medical use cannabis. At a recent gathering of parents I was asked about cannabis use during pregnancy. They had heard that using cannabis for morning sickness helps, and was wondering if it may be harmful to their unborn baby.

Until more is known about the short and long-term effects of cannabis on your baby, it’s safest to avoid using cannabis while pregnant.

The chemicals that are in cannabis can pass from your body to your baby and may affect your baby’s development. Research shows that using cannabis during pregnancy may increase the risk of:

  • pre-term birth
  • low birth weight

Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) a chemical in cannabis is stored in human fat cells, including the fat cells in your baby’s brain. Cannabis use during pregnancy may affect your baby’s brain development which may result in learning and behaviour difficulties later in childhood.

Safe alternatives for treating morning sickness:

[Recommended by The Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada (SOGC)]

  • Eating small meals or snacks often so your stomach doesn’t get empty
  • Eating a few dry crackers or salty potato chips to settle your stomach
  • Staying hydrated and not skipping meals

As more research on the effects of cannabis use continue to emerge, the current evidence shows there are no known safe amount of cannabis use while pregnant or breastfeeding.

If you are planning to get pregnant or are pregnant, I encourage you to speak with your health care provider and discuss the potential risks associated with cannabis use and the effects on your baby’s development.

For more information, eChat or speak with a Public Health Nurse at (416) 338-7600.

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