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Maternity Wards Are Testing New Moms & Babies for Marijuana Use

by Kiri Blakeley on December 31, 2012 at 11:15 AM

Make sure you don't toke up if you're about to go into labor. At least if you're planning on going to a public hospital in New York City. Because if you test positive for marijuana after the delivery, you're likely to have a child protective services investigation before you even get the baby home. More than a dozen city maternity wards routinely test new moms for marijuana usage and turn the results over to city agencies.

These moms are almost exclusively low-income and minority women. If you're an upper class white woman in the suburbs who pops a Xanax before your delivery (not that you should, but if you do), then you're in the clear.

Family court attorneys apparently see lots of "neglect" cases against new moms, centering solely around a positive test for marijuana use after their delivery. One hospital in the Bronx requires moms to get tested -- if they refuse, then the babies are tested.

One woman at this hospital tested positive -- she admitted she smoked pot two weeks before at a party -- and the hospital reportedly held her and her baby for two days, only letting her go once subsequent tests came back negative. She was still put on "mommy probation" -- which included parenting classes -- for a year.

A spokesperson for the hospital told the Daily News: "This is a high-risk population in this hospital. The intent is to help them deliver healthy babies." Err, okay. But by the time a mother has given birth, your test doesn't help with that at all. If this was truly the intent, why not test all women as soon as they get pregnant. (Talk about intrusive government!)

I'm not against women being given counseling and parenting classes after births. In fact, it should be an option for every woman, not just low-income minority women who test positive for marijuana use.

On the other hand, I understand the desire to protect newborns. But I can't get around the fact that this testing is only focusing on marijuana and only low-income city women. I mean, what about testing for heroin use? Meth? Or, for that matter, what about cigarettes and alcohol? What about women who are on various pharmaceuticals such as Adderall, Xanax, Vicodin, etc.?

And should we really even go on a witch hunt for that? Many women are prescribed drugs -- yes, even while they're pregnant -- and it would be difficult to figure out if they were abusing them and not merely taking what was prescribed. I had a friend who was strongly urged to continue her anti-depressants during her pregnancy. Luckily, she wasn't tested for anything after birth.

And what about the dads?? If marijuana use is damaging to babies, what good does it do for a mom to test clean but then the baby goes home to a dad who smokes up?

What do you think of this testing?


Image via Peretzp/Flickr

Filed Under: baby health, childbirth, childcare


  • linzemae


    December 31, 2012 at 11:28 AM

    When you go to your Dr appts during pregnancy why cant the dr check for drugs in urine?

  • blue
    -- Nonmember comment from


    December 31, 2012 at 11:28 AM
    I would be fine with ALL women being tested fro drugs. Just like drug tests for employment, drugs with valid prescriptions, are in the clear.
  • proud...


    December 31, 2012 at 11:29 AM
    I'm sorry I think there are far more dangerous drugs they could be testing for. Why test only for marijuana??
  • Cryst...
    -- Nonmember comment from


    December 31, 2012 at 11:29 AM
    I think it's a good idea. I know a couple that if the mother would have been tested and the put on this type of probation her child would not be half and deaf and neglected every day but she doesn't get help because her parents have "good enough" excuses when CPS investigates. It pissses me off that there's nothing that can be done besides reporting them
  • Celia
    -- Nonmember comment from


    December 31, 2012 at 11:34 AM
    I've read of numerous ob/gyn's recommending to smoke weed instead of buying those ridiculously overpriced morning sickness pills. Plus I've done some research, supposedly THC does not cross the placenta as violently as cocaine or other illegal or legal substances.
  • Sirena
    -- Nonmember comment from


    December 31, 2012 at 11:48 AM
    In Ohio, you're screened at your first trimester appointment when they do bloodwork, and then the placenta is tested afterward. It's routine and no big deal. However, some doctors will recommend, off the record of course, that women with really bad morning sickness smoke pot because it helps with their appetite and isn't known to cross the placenta. Overall, I don't have a problem with this in theory, but not just for low income women. If we're going to do drug testing, it should be across the board. There can be arguments made for alcohol and pot, since in Europe it's common for women to drink lightly during pregnancy, but there's no argument for other drugs. I think the focus is on the wrong thing here.
  • Mom2f...


    December 31, 2012 at 12:29 PM
    I think it's a great idea! If your baby is already born it rather see people "smoke" then drink but pregnant you really should cut everything out. Mothers need to stop being so selfish and think about there children. I think it should apply to every new mother.
  • blh
    -- Nonmember comment from


    December 31, 2012 at 12:34 PM
    If you can't quit smoking weed while you're pregnant you don't care too much snout your kid. Low income women are waaay more likely to do drugs while pregnant, that's just a fact. I do think all women should be tested for drugs but if you're doing crack or heroin it will probably be obvious. Of course prescribed drugs wouldn't get them in trouble.
  • Mom2f...


    December 31, 2012 at 12:38 PM
    And I've had severe morning sickness from beginning to end of 4 pregnancies never once thought Hey maybe ill just smoke a joint. My conscience would never let me get away with that!
  • aoriver
    -- Nonmember comment from


    December 31, 2012 at 12:43 PM
    Marijuana is non-toxic. Aspirin is more dangerous. Stop thinking that if its a "legally" prescribed drug that its somehow safe. Use "Google" to search the studies. Smoking pot helps you and your baby.
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