CBD Gummies While Pregnant

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In the first study to examine the effects of maternal CBD exposure during pregnancy on adult offspring in mammals, U of M researchers found CBD use during pregnancy may affect mood and cognition in offspring long after the exposure has ceased. It is best to refrain from taking CBD while pregnant. Learn more about why you may want to hold off on taking CBD until after baby arrives.

Cannabidiol use during pregnancy affects the brain and behavior in adulthood

The use of cannabidiol (CBD), the major non-psychoactive compound in cannabis, is on the rise across the United States. Pregnant women in particular may view CBD as more “natural” than other remedies for concerns such as nausea and pain, but the consequences of use for the developing fetus are unknown.

In a new study published in the journal Clinical Epigenetics, researchers at the University of Minnesota used a rodent model to investigate the impact of CBD during development and uncovered effects on the brain and behavior. They found that CBD use during pregnancy may affect mood and cognition in offspring long after the exposure has ceased. The study is the first to examine the effects of maternal CBD exposure during pregnancy on adult offspring in mammals.

The research team, made up of scientists at the University of Minnesota’s Department of Animal Science and College of Veterinary Medicine, began by using a human-relevant dose that is typical in adults purchasing CBD over the counter for a variety of ailments. Next, the team treated pregnant mice daily throughout pregnancy and lactation until the pups were weaned. The offspring were followed into adulthood without any additional CBD, at which time they were measured for persistent behavioral and molecular impacts of CBD.

Specifically, the team of scientists investigated rodent behavior and DNA methylation, an important mechanism known as an epigenetic mark in both rodents and humans that helps control the “when, where, and how much” of gene activity. CBD’s effects on gene activity markers were examined in two brain regions important for memory, mood, and cognition.

Among the study’s key findings:

  • Chronic maternal CBD treatment increased anxiety and improved memory performance in adult female offspring, while males were unaffected.
  • The effects of CBD during pregnancy persisted even though the offspring had no direct exposure as adults.
  • Maternal CBD treatment shifted gene regulatory marks (DNA methylation) at hundreds of genes in the brains of adult female offspring.
  • Genes affected by CBD were involved in the formation of new neurons and synapses, communication between neurons, and diseases like autism spectrum disorder, epilepsy and substance use disorder.

“CBD use has exploded in recent years, yet we still don’t have a clear picture of its impact on the brain, especially during development,” said study director Christopher Faulk, an assistant professor in the College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences. “We show here that use during pregnancy can permanently impact the resulting offspring in adulthood and potentially for the rest of their lives.”

“The effects we observed on memory and anxiety were in 12-week-old mouse offspring, a time that approximates human young adulthood, and is cause for concern,” said study co-author and project lead Nicole Wanner, a post-doctoral fellow in the College of Veterinary Medicine. “DNA methylation marks in the brain are largely set during fetal development, and the presence of CBD during that process appears to direct certain permanent changes. We were surprised at the extent that CBD linked gene pathways were associated with neurological disorders, and expect future work will be needed to understand how fetal exposure to CBD impacts long-term brain function and mental health.”

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According to Faulk and Wanner, gaining more insight into how CBD affects the developing brain will be important for future safety recommendations.

The researchers are continuing to draw the epigenetic map of gestational CBD exposure and its impact on youth and adults. In the future, they hope to expand behavioral studies to include measures of sociability and drug reward, which are important for diseases like autism spectrum disorder and substance use disorder, respectively. They also plan to repeat these measurements in adolescent offspring in order to determine whether abnormalities are already present at an earlier age or whether they develop later.

Funding for the study was provided by the College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences at the University of Minnesota.

Can I Use CBD While Pregnant?

Elisa is a well-known parenting writer who is passionate about providing research-based content to help parents make the best decisions for their families. She has written for well-known sites including POPSUGAR Family and Scary Mommy, among others.

Verywell Family articles are reviewed by board-certified physicians and family healthcare professionals. Medical Reviewers confirm the content is thorough and accurate, reflecting the latest evidence-based research. Content is reviewed before publication and upon substantial updates. Learn more.

Andrea Chisolm, MD, is a board-certified OB/GYN who has taught at both Tufts University School of Medicine and Harvard Medical School. She has over 20 years of clinical experience and is currently is in practice at Cody Regional Health in Cody, Wyoming.

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Pregnancy comes with a slew of unpleasant side effects, like extreme nausea or persistent backaches, but many common medications are no longer safe once you have a baby on the way. If you’re on the hunt for something natural to cure your morning sickness, a strained lower back, or even pregnancy-related anxiety, you may start to wonder about CBD.

As wonderful as this substance may seem, it is not safe to use during pregnancy. Although there isn’t enough research yet to say for sure what could go wrong, there are a few potential concerns to know about. And until we know more, it’s best to err on the side of caution and avoid CBD while pregnant.

What is CBD?

Cannabidiol (CBD) is a component of the cannabis plant. CBD has many therapeutic benefits, such as helping to alleviate chronic pain, anxiety, and depression, insomnia, and nausea and vomiting. There are a few choices for how to take CBD, including topicals, gum, sublingual drops, and gel caps.

CBD won’t make you stoned, though. Unlike Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), another well-known component of the cannabis plant, CBD does not intoxicate. Many people prefer to use CBD because it gives them the benefits of cannabis without the associated “high.” In general, you can get CBD anywhere in the country, since it’s federally legal.

Is It Safe to Use CBD During Pregnancy?

The Federal Drug Administration (FDA) says it “strongly advises against” taking CBD while pregnant or breastfeeding. You should avoid CBD during pregnancy, largely because its effects on a developing fetus are simply unknown. We do know that THC can enter a developing baby’s brain, so there is reason to believe CBD may be able to as well.

“There is the potential risk that [CBD] could affect embryo implantation and promote miscarriages,” cautions Felice Gersh, MD, a California-based OB/GYN and award-winning author of two books on fertility and polycystic ovarian syndrome.

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The FDA is still collecting data on the exact risks of taking CBD during pregnancy, but until we hear any different, you should not consider CBD as a safe option when you are expecting.

Every pregnancy is different. Be sure to consult with a healthcare provider about your circumstances if you have any questions about taking CBD while pregnant.

What If I Use CBD Before Realizing I’m Pregnant?

If you regularly use CBD, or you just happened to try it out before you got that positive pregnancy test, don’t panic. According to Marco Mouanness, MD, an OB/GYN and fertility expert at the Rejuvenating Fertility Center in New York City, you are probably fine. Along with discontinuing your CBD use, he advises reaching out to your OB/GYN so they can monitor you as necessary.

Since we really don’t know enough about CBD’s effects on pregnancy and a developing fetus, we have to rely on what we know about THC, since they are both cannabis components. Animal studies show a connection between THC and early miscarriage, but Dr. Mouanness points out that if you get a positive pregnancy test, you haven’t miscarried. As long as you stop using CBD right away, the earlier CBD use won’t cause miscarriage.

In some cases, your OB/GYN may prescribe progesterone to offset any potential miscarriage risk, notes Dr. Gersh. “Taking supplemental progesterone may provide some protection from the effects of CBD exposure early in pregnancy. [as it] sometimes helps prevent miscarriage.”

Safety Precautions

CBD is not safe to take during pregnancy. There are a few potential risks to know about.

Potential Risk of Miscarriage

Animal studies have found a link between CBD use and early miscarriage. While animal studies do not directly translate to humans, you may want to stop taking CBD as a precaution if you are actively trying to conceive.

Potential Reproductive Harm

Another animal study linked CBD use in pregnancy with lower sperm production in male offspring. So, if you give birth to a boy, there could be a risk to his future reproductive health. Again, results from animal studies do not always carry over to humans. However, it is best to play it safe.

Worsening of Pregnancy-Related Side Effects

Many people like CBD because of its minimal side effects. However, some people experience tiredness or diarrhea when using CBD. These side effects could negatively affect your pregnancy. No one wants to be even more tired than pregnancy already makes a person, and diarrhea may lead to dehydration—a dangerous state when pregnant.

When Can I Resume Using CBD?

If you choose to breastfeed your baby, you should continue to hold off on CBD use. “CBD. will cross into the breast milk and go to the baby,” warns Dr. Gersh.

There is some evidence that CBD in breastmilk may negatively affect infant motor development. And since it stays in your milk for a while, this isn’t something you can “pump and dump.” “Some studies have shown that CBD oil derivatives can be found in breastmilk for up to six days after use,” Dr. Mouanness points out.

Once you have fully weaned your baby from the breast, it is safe to start using CBD again. At this point, there is no longer any risk to your child. There are pros and cons to taking CBD, but those are up to you to discuss with a doctor once you’re no longer sustaining your child with your body.

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Pregnancy Safe Alternatives

If you are seeking relief from certain pregnancy symptoms, there are a few natural remedies that may help.

Ginger

Ginger is an ancient remedy proven to help with nausea and vomiting. Dr. Gersh notes that you can consume ginger in any of its forms, including candied, pickled, or as a tea, to get the positive effects.

Magnesium

If you can’t get the sleep you need, magnesium, an essential vitamin, may help. Magnesium has a calming effect when taken regularly, which, along with promoting good sleep, may help combat anxiety and depression. Taking a magnesium supplement blocks pain receptors, so it may also decrease headaches and other aches and pains.

Vitamin B

Dr. Mouanness notes that vitamin B can significantly reduce pregnancy-induced nausea. However, he also points out that you should not take any more vitamin B than the amount already included in your prenatal vitamins unless directed to by a doctor, since we don’t know enough about its effects on a developing fetus.

Be sure to consult with a healthcare provide before starting any new supplements or medications.

A Word From Verywell

CBD has many benefits, but the possible risks to a developing fetus make it unsafe to use during pregnancy. Miscarriage and effects on future fertility or infant motor development are possibly related to its use, and until we learn more, the risk is not worth it.

That doesn’t mean you have to suffer through uncomfortable or unbearable pregnancy side effects, though. Don’t hesitate to reach out to an OB/GYN, midwife, or healthcare provider for ideas on how to safely treat your symptoms.

Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.

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Huestis MA, Solimini R, Pichini S, Pacifici R, Carlier J, Busardò FP. Cannabidiol adverse effects and toxicity. Curr Neuropharmacol. 2019;17(10):974-989. doi:10.2174/1570159X17666190603171901

Dalterio SL, DeRooij DG. Maternal cannabinoid exposure Effects on spermatogenesis in male offspring. International Journal of Andrology. 1986;9(4):250-258. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2605.1986.tb00888.x.

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Kirkland AE, Sarlo GL, Holton KF. The role of magnesium in neurological disorders. Nutrients. 2018;10(6):730. doi:10.3390/nu10060730.

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By Elisa Cinelli
Elisa is a well-known parenting writer who is passionate about providing research-based content to help parents make the best decisions for their families. She has written for well-known sites including POPSUGAR Family and Scary Mommy, among others.

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