Want to Be a New Father?
Quit Using Cannabis First

For decades, the perception has been that the mother’s health and behavior before and during pregnancy were all that was important for the newborn’s health. That’s all beginning to change, though, as new research suggests that paternal cannabis use during the preconception period (the months leading up to conceiving a child) can cause congenital diseases and other problems among newborns.

Photo by Socha/iStockphoto.com

A study published in a volume called “Schizophrenia Research” discussed how cannabis use on the father’s part before conceiving a child could directly affect “psychotic-like experiences” with his children. According to that study, when a father-to-be uses cannabis regularly in the months leading up to conception, his offspring’s risk for psychotic experiences and other mental issues almost doubles.

In addition to these new findings, Cannabis use has several other negative effects on unborn children and the parents’ ability to conceive.

Paternal Cannabis Use and
its Effect on Fertility

Cannabis use is increasing, partially because marijuana legalization is spreading across states and even entire countries. This is unfortunate because cannabis has adverse effects on fertility in both men and women. According to a Canadian study penned by authors Jordan, Ngo, and Jones, “Marijuana can have a negative effect on fertility for both men and women and can create problems when a woman uses marijuana while pregnant.”

“Marijuana can have a negative effect on fertility for both
men and women and can create problems when a woman
uses marijuana while pregnant.”  

It’s been proven that not only does a man’s use of marijuana before conception make it more likely that his offspring will suffer from congenital diseases (diseases present from birth), cannabis use during preconception also reduces male fertility, making it more difficult to conceive a child.

Paternal Cannabis Use and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome

Father smoking

In a particularly concerning revelation, another study published in ”Sage Journals” revealed a direct connection between paternal marijuana use and sudden infant death syndrome. According to authors Munch, Skurtveit, and Handal, “Paternal marijuana use during the period of conception, pregnancy, and postnatally has been found to be significantly associated with sudden infant death syndrome. Human spermatozoa express the cannabinoid receptor type 1, and in vitro studies exposing human spermatozoa to marijuana extracts have demonstrated decreased sperm motility, viability, and function.”

Paternal Cannabis Use and Risk for Miscarriage

In yet another concerning discovery, a separate body of research determined that paternal marijuana use is also connected to partner miscarriage. Researchers at the Boston University School of Public Health found that when men use marijuana one or more times per week, their partner is more than twice as likely to miscarry than partners of men who do not use marijuana.

According to lead study author Alyssa Harlow, “Given that the human embryo is comprised 50 percent of the male’s genes, there’s been emerging interest in studying the role that men play. There are [cannabinoid] receptors in human testicular tissue and sperm, and when a man uses marijuana, THC binds to these receptors.” Given that cannabis does have such an exact, direct effect on male reproductive function, there may be other, equally harmful effects or more damaging effects of fathers-to-be using marijuana that we aren’t aware of yet.

How Are Congenital Diseases Best Avoided?

Now that it’s clear that congenital diseases are often caused by paternal cannabis use, it’s essential to understand precisely what congenital diseases are and how to avoid them. Congenital disease is defined as a disability or health problem that is present from birth. Examples include:

  • Heart conditions
  • Spina bifida
  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Fragile X syndrome
  • Down syndrome
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Cleft lip
  • Cleft palate
  • Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FASD)

Some congenital diseases are hereditary, meaning they are passed down through one or both parents’ genetic makeup. However, many congenital disorders are caused by lifestyle choices and preventable health issues that one or both parents have. That’s why, when two people are considering having a baby, they should both commit to leading as healthy a lifestyle as possible before they even conceive a child.

A healthy lifestyle means a lot of different things. It means getting enough rest at night, maintaining a balanced and healthy diet, and avoiding harmful substances like tobacco and nicotine products, alcohol, marijuana, other drugs, sugary, processed, fatty foods, etc. It means getting exercise every day and ensuring that one’s home and work/school environments are clean, sanitary, and well-kept. When parents-to-be seek to keep all of these points in, they are more likely to give birth to a healthy baby.

When in Need, Seek Help from an Addiction Treatment Center

Drug and alcohol use presents a genuine risk to anyone, even if the substance of choice is marijuana. Furthermore, substance abuse threatens and harms those around the individual, their family members, loved ones, friends, coworkers, even their unborn children.

Drug and alcohol abuse is never something that just harms the addict. Everyone around him is at risk, too. It’s essential to consider the far-reaching effects of substance abuse, not only as an effort to understand this issue better but also to enforce the critical fact that people who use substances must seek help.

If you know someone who would like to father a child but who cannot stop using marijuana or other substances on his own, please contact Narconon today. With over fifty years in addiction treatment, the Narconon program gets results. The testament to the program’s success is in the thousands upon thousands of individuals who have been able to reclaim their lives thanks to the program.

Don’t let your loved one suffer from drug and alcohol addiction any longer. Please make sure they get help before they have children. It’s the right thing to do for them and their progeny. Call Narconon today to take the first step towards a better future for your loved one.


Reviewed by Claire Pinelli, ICAADC, CCS, LADC, RAS, MCAP



After working in addiction treatment for several years, Ren now travels the country, studying drug trends and writing about addiction in our society. Ren is focused on using his skill as an author and counselor to promote recovery and effective solutions to the drug crisis. Connect with Ren on LinkedIn.