Effects of Marijuana on the Fetus and Breastfeeding Infants
McCracken, Tori A., 1996--
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Drugs consumed during pregnancy has the potential to affect the fetus and cause conditions involving growth and development. With the recent legalization of marijuana in various states as well as its high use among pregnant women, healthcare professionals have begun to question whether maternal use can cause negative outcomes for neonates. According to Ryan, Ammerman, O’Connor & AAP Committee on Substance Use and Prevention, “data from 2016 reported in the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) revealed that ... among 18 through 25-year-old pregnant women, 8.5% reported past month marijuana use” (2018, p. 1). This paper aims to examine the outcomes of marijuana use on the fetus and breastfeeding infants. It also explores to what degree of effect marijuana produces. Outcomes such as neonatal growth parameters, birth weight, head circumference, and length are assessed. Additionally, the relationship between marijuana use and the occurrence of ectopic pregnancy is analyzed. Neurodevelopment, as well as behavioral outcomes, are reviewed from birth into adulthood. This paper also explores if any neonatal irregularities arise from the use of marijuana when breastfeeding. Data was formulated by secondary analysis from various articles discussing the effects of marijuana use during pregnancy and breastfeeding. Results revealed subtle differences in individuals prenatally exposed to marijuana. Additionally, Ryan et al. (2018) stated that maternal marijuana use can “enhance the placental barrier permeability to pharmacologic agents and recreational substances, potentially placing the fetus at risk from these agents or drugs” (p. 3). Various confounding factors such as the use of tobacco and alcohol limited the accuracy of data. While this subject is still being investigated, researchers have proven that marijuana readily crosses the placenta and is expressed in breastmilk, thus, increasing the risk for negative outcomes. Until further research is conducted, healthcare professionals discourage the use of marijuana while pregnant or breastfeeding.