NVRH marijuana

The local Perinatal Marijuana Use Task Force is expanding its efforts to educate patients and the public about risks associated with marijuana use while pregnant or breastfeeding through a recently launched campaign, “Marijuana Use and Our Baby.” The task force, made up of representatives from Northeastern Vermont Regional Hospital (NVRH) Women’s Wellness Center, Birth Center and Prevention Services, local health departments and other health and child development professionals, was formed in response to last year’s legalization of recreational marijuana in Vermont and its related effects on prenatal, newborn and early childhood health.

“As a health system and providers, we have a responsibility to keep our patients and community informed about making healthy choices when it comes to prenatal care and newborns,” Jade Kaplan, CNM, MPH, a provider at NVRH Women’s Wellness Center and Birth Center and chair of the task force, said. “We aim to not only educate the community about the health risks for pregnant and breastfeeding women using marijuana but to offer them support and counsel.”

The task force has created posters, handouts and will launch a multi-channel education and marketing campaign to reach expecting and current parents, providers, clinicians and the community.

According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), marijuana use during pregnancy can lead to

low birth weight, negatively alter a baby’s brain cells, increase risk of developmental and behavioral problems in children, expose mother and baby to harmful chemicals and increase unpleasant pregnancy symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, poor appetite, anxiety and depression.

“The effects of tobacco and alcohol use during pregnancy and while breastfeeding are widely documented and publically acknowledged, but many of the same risks appear with marijuana use as well,” Kaplan said.

The American Academy of Pediatrics has listed marijuana as one of the drugs that has adverse effects on an infant during breastfeeding. Chemicals from marijuana can be passed from mother to baby through breastmilk.

“We want to partner with growing families to meet their goals and empower them with information,” NVRH Lactation Consultant Carol Moore-Whitney, ENC, IBCLC, BSN, MST, said. “Our team at NVRH and in this task force 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. There are many remedies that are safe, natural and effective without exposing them or their baby to the increased negative risks associated with marijuana use.”

For more information about the Perinatal Marijuana Use Task Force or efforts to educate about marijuana use and pregnancy, contact Jade Kaplan at NVRH Women’s Wellness Center at 802-748-7300.

Northeastern Vermont Regional Hospital is located in St. Johnsbury in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont. We are a community, not-for-profit, acute care, critical access hospital. NVRH is one of two Vermont hospitals designated as a Baby FriendlyTM hospital by the United Nations. The organization provides primary and preventive care, surgical and specialty services, inpatient and outpatient care and 24-hour, physician-staffed emergency services. NVRH serves more than 30,000 people in the Caledonia and Southern Essex Counties in Vermont and employs 600.