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I’ve quit everything in pregnancy and I’m very healthy and all seems to be going well, but I sometimes crave pot. I know women who smoked during pregnancy to stay relaxed and deal with morning sickness and everything is fine with their kids. Is it really bad for the baby? I don’t want to ask my doctor because of the legal issue. Online they always say no. But as if the American Pregnancy Association is going to tell me it’s okay. – Sick of Being Smokeless

Dear Smokeless,

The official recommendation is to avoid all “street drugs”, and you’ll find very little variation on that theme. After having done quite a bit of research ourselves, we’ve found the pot and pregnancy question a pretty uneasy one. Compared with crack and binge drinking – and, for that matter, cigarette smoking – pot smoking is less conclusively harmful. Of course, it’s hard to do a controlled study. Pot smokers are more likely to smoke cigarettes and use other drugs, and no one who smokes pot during pregnancy feels much like opening up about it. The result is few studies with mitigating factors. Was it the THC, the nicotine or the accompanying prenatal yoga and meditation that made that child so spaced-out? Some research shows that prenatal pot exposure has been associated with behavioral and neurological problems. Some shows no effects. One study even showed that pot-exposed babies fared exceptionally well. We do know that pot stays in the system a long time and that drugs pass through the placenta, so the drug is likely getting to the baby. We just don’t know exactly what it does when it gets there.

Some feel that any negative effects of pot smoking on the fetus (and indeed, none have been irrefutably proven) are outweighed by the positive effects of the drug on the mother’s sense of well-being. Others think it’s crazy to take a risk. While it may not be conclusively harmful, pot is illegal in most states. Though drug testing of pregnant women is not standard, detection of marijuana in a mother’s bloodstream before birth can lead to various legal complications. Ultimately, this question, like all the other ones you’ll be dealing with as a mother, is up to you. With pot, it’s always hard to separate the real risks from the cultural assumptions. But if you’re prone to paranoia, consider whether indulging will give you a little relaxation, or a little more to worry about. For further information on the topic without the histrionics, you may want to check out The Panic Free Pregnancy, by laid-back L.A. M.D. Michael Broder.

Have a question? Email parentaladvisory@babble.com

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