Cannabis and Your Baby

Picture of marijuana plant

Is it safe to use cannabis while pregnant?
Cannabis contains THC, the ingredient that makes you feel high. It moves quickly into your fat cells and brain and can be stored there for weeks or even months. You’re pregnant now, and just like you, the THC targets your baby’s fat and brain and is stored there. It can change the way your baby’s brain develops. How your baby’s brain grows during pregnancy is really important for your baby’s future. There are times when 250,000 neurons are added every minute! At birth, almost all the neurons that your baby’s brain will ever have are present.

Research shows that cannabis use during pregnancy may affect your child’s thinking and learning skills, behaviours, use of substances, and mental health. These effects continue into the teenage years and beyond.

No research has shown any safe level of cannabis use while a woman is pregnant.

A child exposed to cannabis during pregnancy may have:

  • a harder time learning in school
  • attention deficits
  • increased hyperactivity and impulsivity
  • a harder time with memory, judgment, reasoning, problem solving and decision making skills
  • speech and language difficulties

Older children and teens may experience:

  • depression and anxiety
  • delinquency
  • early substance use
  • higher rates of smoking and/or substance use

Is it safe to use cannabis while breastfeeding?
Cannabis use can affect the quality and quantity of breast milk you produce. THC is stored in your breast milk for long periods of time. THC passes to your baby and moves quickly into baby’s fat cells and brain where it can be stored for weeks.

Breastfeeding mothers should not use cannabis.

Can cannabis affect parenting?
Use of cannabis can affect how you interact with your child. You may miss your baby/child’s cues for hunger and interaction (play, read, cuddle, etc). These interactions are an important way for your baby/child to learn about the world. Use of cannabis can also affect your ability to protect your child from danger and make good decisions.

Cannabis should not be used while parenting.

References & More Information:
Risks of Cannabis on Fertility, Pregnancy, Breastfeeding and Parenting
Thinking of Using Cannabis Before or During Pregnancy
Thinking of Using Cannabis While Parenting
Women and Cannabis (Centre of Excellence for Women’s Health)
Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction
Zero To Three: National Center for Infants, Toddlers and Families
Organization of Teratology Information Specialists
University of Washington Alcohol and Drug Abuse Institute
Medications and Mothers’ Milk 2017 by Thomas W. Hale & Hilary E. Rowe

Last updated: May 2019