Tuesday, October 16 , 2018, 5:18 pm | Fair 75º


Letter to the Editor: Marijuana Legalization Putting Infants, Toddlers at Heightened Risk

With the passage of Proposition 64 legalizing recreational marijuana, I urge parents to be cautious.

60 Minutes interviewed Colorado doctors following the legalization of recreational marijuana. Nine months after legalization, they reported a 15 percent increase in babies born testing positive for THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana.

Cannabis is stored in fatty tissue, like the brain. Tests detect THC in the brain after it has left the blood.

Studies show that babies born to mothers who use marijuana are twice as likely to end up in neonatal intensive care units and are 77 percent more likely to be underweight at birth. Babies exposed to marijuana in utero may develop verbal, memory and behavioral problems.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends breastfeeding mothers avoid marijuana. The levels of THC in breast milk could be up to seven to eight times higher than in the mother’s blood — meaning your baby is getting more THC than you. Babies excrete THC in their urine for two to three weeks after exposure.

While a lot of this research has focused on maternal use of marijuana, dads aren’t off the hook. Babies exposed to marijuana smoke alone are at a higher risk of poor weight gain, asthma, neurobehavioral delays and dying from SIDS.

Up to 90 percent of a child’s brain develops during the first 5 years of life.

As parents, avoiding exposure to marijuana during this critical brain development time will give your child every opportunity to succeed. As taxpayers, supporting brain development in children 0-5 reduces the need for costly interventions as children grow.

Ben Romo
First 5 Santa Barbara County executive director

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