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What are the effects of marijuana during pregnancy?

Negative effects of marijuana during pregnancy include delayed fetal growth, low resistance to infection, and decreased oxygen levels.

Marijuana is a psychoactive drug that can induce short-term effects such as dry mouth, red eyes, impaired motor skills, feelings of paranoia or anxiety, and decreased memory, or long-term effects such as addiction, behavioural problems, and psychosis.

According to a study published in the Journal of Maternal-Fetal and Neonatal Medicine, physicians examined sonogram data from 450 pregnant women who consumed marijuana on a daily basis.  They report several negative effects of marijuana during pregnancy.  One of the main negative effects was delayed fetal growth, which can increase the chance of a stillbirth.

Exposure to smoke leads to delayed fetal growth

According to the researchers, exposure to chemical compounds called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons is what leads to delayed fetal growth and not THC.  In fact, there is a higher concentration of these compounds in second-hand marijuana smoke than tobacco smoke according to the researchers.

Since marijuana has been legalized in an increasing number of jurisdictions, there may also be an accompanying rise in marijuana use during pregnancy, which creates a significant public health concern.  Currently, about 16% of pregnant women smoke marijuana on a daily basis.


Written by Katrina F. Zafer, BSc



  1. Brar, B. K., Patil, P. S., Jackson, D. N., Gardner, M. O., Alexander, J. M., Doyle, N. M. (2019) Effect of Intrauterine Marijuana Exposure on Fetal Growth Patterns and Placental Vascular Resistance.  The Journal of Maternal-Fetal & Neonatal Medicine
  2. EurekAlert News Release – Pot While Pregnant: UNLV Medicine Doctors Urge Caution – (2019) –

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