Over the years, Albertans have gotten the message that smoking or use of alcohol while pregnant or breastfeeding should be avoided. Now the introduction of legal cannabis products requires an equally important message from Alberta Gaming, Liquor & Cannabis (AGLC), the Government of Alberta’s Crown commercial enterprise and agency overseeing cannabis distribution and retail licensing in the province: It’s safest not to use cannabis while pregnant or breastfeeding.
While the risks of smoking any product while pregnant or breastfeeding are broadly understood, the introduction of new products, such as cannabis extracts, edibles or cannabis-infused drinks, has made the case for avoiding the inhalation or ingestion of cannabis products less clear to some.
Although cannabis is a ‘natural’ plant product, it doesn’t make it safe to use while pregnant or breastfeeding. Cannabis use during pregnancy can negatively impact a baby’s health and developing brain.
THC, the psychoactive component of cannabis products, is stored in the same body fat tissues that produce milk and can stay in the mother’s tissue for days or even weeks potentially posing serious health concerns for the baby.
Cannabis is a complex plant, with hundreds of compounds and chemicals that have not been fully studied yet. There have been few complete studies on the use of either THC or cannabidiol (CBD) during pregnancy, let alone the other chemicals and compounds found in cannabis products.
Being aware of the potentially harmful effects of cannabis on pregnancy and a baby’s development is critical. Since research still hasn’t given us all the answers about the effects of THC or CBD on pregnancy and a baby’s development, the safest choice is to avoid using any amount of cannabis while pregnant or breastfeeding.
Here’s what we know now.
Frequent cannabis use during pregnancy is associated with negative outcomes for the baby and an increased risk of early labour. This can result in lower birth weight, breathing difficulties, temperature irregularities, hospitalization and even potential cognitive problems for the baby when compared to the outcome for full-term infants.
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