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Dr. Torri Metz,​ an obstetrician specializing in high-risk pregnancies at the University of Colorado Hospital and Denver Health Medical Center, says that increasingly, patients are disclosing a potentially concerning habit: They’re using marijuana ​while pregnant and breast-feeding.

Colorado is one of four states plus the District Columbia that have legalized marijuana for recreational use, with nearly half of states in the U.S. having now legalized the drug to some extent, frequently for medical use. Metz says it’s unknown whether actual use among expectant and breast-feeding moms has increased, or if more patients just feel at ease disclosing it, given the changing legal landscape​. But a recent survey published in Nursing for Women’s Health ​– the clinical practice journal of the Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses ​​​​​– found that marijuana use during pregnancy is on the rise, with approximately 10 percent of pregnant women in the U.S. saying they used the drug while pregnant – despite associated risks ranging from lower birth weight and an increase in pre-term labor to issues with fetal development that could affect attention, memory and problem solving, according to the authors.

In addition, more practitioners​ – from doctors and nurses to lactation consultants – are fielding patients’ questions on the topic. Their message? Pregnant women should quit using marijuana immediately, whether smoking it, consuming it, applying the drug topically or otherwise. “We always counsel people to stop,” says Metz.

Where it gets more complicated, however, is that with scant research on the impact of marijuana on a nursing baby, experts vary on whether a mom should stop breast-feeding – which has been proven highly beneficial to babies’ physical and mental health – if she’s unable to quit smoking weed, or using cannabis in any other form.​ ​“I think clinicians are extremely frustrated,” Metz says, by a lack of data guiding them on the topic. “Caregivers are trying to weigh the known benefits of breast-feeding against the possibility of marijuana exposure and then that’s where you start to see difference in opinion – because it is just that.”

 

While acknowledging the complexities and that many probably won’t heed their doctor’s advice to quit using marijuana, Stellwagen encourages her patients to take a long view: “It’s a short time that we’re asking you to abstain, and until we better know the risks for the baby, the best thing is not to use THC and other substances when you’re pregnant or breast-feeding.”

Read Complete Story at http://health.usnews.com/health-news/health-wellness/articles/2015/12/01/hazy-advice-should-moms-who-smoke-weed-continue-to-breast-feed



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