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NORTHEASTERN VERMONT REGIONAL HOSPITAL OFFERS IMPORTANT FACTS ABOUT MARIJUANA USE AND NEWBORNS

Friday, July 20, 2018

ST. JOHNSBURY, VT (July 20, 2018) -- On July 1st Vermont became the ninth state to legalize recreational marijuana.  It is widely documented and publically acknowledged that the use of tobacco and alcohol during pregnancy can cause health problems in newborns.  But what about the use of marijuana during pregnancy and during breastfeeding?

“We feel that it is the responsibility of Northeastern Vermont Regional Hospital to keep our community informed about making healthy choices when it comes to prenatal care and newborns,” said Jade Kaplan, Nurse-Midwife for NVRH’s Women’s Wellness and Birth Center.  “There is significant brain growth occurring during the baby’s first months of life; marijuana may alter brain cells.  The chemicals in marijuana (in particular, tetrahydrocannabinol or THC) pass through the mother’s system to the baby and can negatively affect your baby’s development.”   

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) marijuana use during pregnancy can be harmful to your baby’s health. According to the CDC health problems include: low birth weight, and developmental problems that may not be apparent until the child is older.  The same issues apply when marijuana edibles or oil is digested.  In fact, many edibles contain higher amounts of THC than what is smoked. And marijuana is not less risky than other drugs (such as antidepressants) because it is ‘natural’.

The American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Drugs (2001) lists marijuana as one of the drugs that has adverse effects on the infant during breastfeeding.  Chemicals from marijuana can be passed from mother to baby through breast milk. THC is stored in fat and is slowly released over time, meaning an infant could be exposed for a longer period of time affecting the baby’s brain development.   “We want to partner with growing families to meet their goals and empower them with balanced information,” said Carol Moore-Whitney, RN/Lactation Consultant, NVRH Birth Center and St. Johnsbury Pediatrics.   “Our team at the Women’s Wellness Center and The Birth Center recognizes there can be side-effects with pregnancy, like nausea and anxiety.  We are here to help mothers transition to this new stage in their lives, and find treatments that work for them.” 

In response to concern for the use of marijuana on prenatal, newborn and early childhood health, NVRH’s Birth Center and Women’s Wellness professionals have partnered with members of the NVRH Prevention Services team and staff from the State’s local health office in St. Johnsbury to create The Perinatal Marijuana Use Task Force.  This group of professionals is tasked not only to educate the community about the health risks for pregnant and breastfeeding women using marijuana, but to offer them and their families support and counsel.  For more information contact: Perinatal Marijuana Use Task Force member Jade Kaplan at Women’s Wellness, 802-748-7300.


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Northeastern Vermont Regional Hospital
PO Box 905 1315 Hospital Drive
St. Johnsbury, Vermont 05819
802 748-8141
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