I use marijuana regularly to help with migraines. Can I use it while pregnant and breastfeeding?

Using cannabis while pregnant and during breastfeed is probably one the most contentious subjects when discussing cannabis. Quite frankly, its easy to see why. Logically one would think that if pre-natal exposure to intoxicants such as alcohol and tobacco poses proven health risks to the fetus, then exposure to cannabis would likely pose similar risks to a child’s health and development.

The problem wit this, of course, is that the scientific facts to justify this are almost impossible to find. There are many reason for this. One of these is that it’s virtually impossible for investigators to obtain permission to conduct any type of prospective clinical trial that knowingly exposes pregnant mothers – and their future offspring – to cannabis. Two, because women often face severe legal sanctions (such as the loss of child custody or incarceration) for admitting that they have smoked pot while pregnant, most mothers refuse to divulge such information – even to researchers conducting anonymous surveys years after the fact. Moreover, among the handful of surveys that have been conducted, several fail to adequately control for mothers’ use of alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs during the course of their pregnancy. This is because cannabis is still labelled a Schedule 1 drug and illegal by the DEA.

There are retrospective studies from all over the world that show the pros and cons of cannabis during pregnancy as well as during breastfeeding., There are surveys of Its use on hyperemesis gravidarum, characterized by severe nausea and vomiting, malnutrition, and weight loss during pregnancy ( not your typical morning sickness). A web search of this topic will reveal opinions on both side of the question.

This is obviously a very important decision for you to make on behalf of your child, either while pregnant or when breastfeeding. I don’t think that there a absolute right or wrong answer to this question. Just research the "facts" thoroughly and hope that you choose correctly.

Perry Solomon, MD

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