Pot and Pregnancy: What Are the Risks?

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The powerful American Medical Association agreed on Monday to push for written warnings on medical and recreational marijuana products, and to have posted warnings wherever these products are sold. Their decision comes after studies that suggest marijuana use during pregnancy and nursing might be linked to conditions including low birth weight, premature birth, and even behavior problems in young children.

pregnant belly

There are already similar label warnings on alcohol and tobacco products, and although more research is needed the AMA believes that erring on the side of caution makes sense. Marijuana has not been proven safe for use during pregnancy or while breastfeeding, and this move now puts the issue front and center on the AMA’s lobbying agenda.

Data shows a wide disparity in marijuana use during pregnancy: overall, it is at about 5% nationwide, but climbs to nearly 28% among urban low-income women. The AMA’s ultimate goal is to force a federal requirement for warning labels, but with pot use illegal nationwide but allowed in some individual states, their policy will also seek local and state regulatory measures.

Medical marijuana is now legal in 23 states and Washington, D.C., and recreational marijuana is legal in the nation’s capital as well as in Alaska, Colorado, Washington state, and Oregon. Several states already require warning labels on cannabis products, but Oregon is the lone state requiring a point-of-sale warning regarding use during pregnancy and breastfeeding. Colorado lawmakers rejected a ban on both warning signs in pot shops and sale of marijuana to pregnant women.

Some women use marijuana during or after pregnancy to ease nausea, chronic pain, or depression, but associate OB-GYN professor Dr. Judy Chang of the University of Pittsburg has studied substance abuse during pregnancy and says that there are “other alternatives without the potential risk.”

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About the Author

Vicki Clinebell is a former television advertising executive who spent 25+ years with an ABC television affiliate in sales and marketing. A journalism major in college at the University of Colorado/Boulder, she now writes for a variety of online and print publications and provides blog content for clients including retail businesses and artists. The diversity of subject matter appeals to her, whether she’s reporting on the latest trends in baby gear, highlighting stories about outdoor adventures, or explaining basic pet-care tips. Even better, she says, is the shorter work commute… just down the hall, and a dress code that’s changed from suits and heels to jeans and a sweatshirt.

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