The Grapevine

Marijuana Use In US: More Women Use Cannabis During Pregnancy

The medical benefits of marijuana has been widely accepted in many states across the U.S. From fighting certain types of cancer, treating epilepsy to preventing depression, people use cannabis for a variety of reasons. 

But a new group of users were found growing in the U.S. amid the legalization of marijuana across states. Researchers from healthcare company Kaiser Permanente found that the drug has been getting more attention from pregnant women. 

A new study, published in JAMA Network Open, shows that more women now are using marijuana before and during pregnancy. The findings come from the analysis of data of 276,991 pregnant women from Northern California.

The researchers found that between 2009 and 2017, cannabis use a year before pregnancy increased from 6.8 percent to 12.5 percent. Meanwhile, the use during pregnancy also climbed from 1.9 percent to 3.4 percent. 

The team said the rise comes amid the legalization of cannabis for recreational use in California in 2018. 

"These findings should alert women's health clinicians to be aware of potential increases in daily and weekly cannabis use among their patients," Kelly Young-Wolff, study lead author and a research scientist at the Kaiser Permanente Division of Research, said in a statement

She added the real number of women smoking or using cannabis before and during pregnancy could be higher than their estimates. The team expects that many women still avoid disclosing their substance use to a medical professional.

Cannabis Use During Pregnancy & Risks

Managing morning sickness can be the main reason why women use cannabis during pregnancy, the researchers said. Young-Wolff noted that product marketing and online media played a role in the trend since they promoted the idea of the safe use of the drug during pregnancy. 

However, American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) warns that cannabis may have bad effects on the baby. Previous research showed a link between the drug use and a low birthweight.

ACOG recommended that women avoid cannabis use during pregnancy to reduce risk of neurodevelopmental problems.

"There is an urgent need to better understand the effects of prenatal cannabis exposure as cannabis becomes legalized in more states and more widely accepted and used," Nancy Goler, study senior author and associate executive director of The Permanente Medical Group, said. 

"Until such time as we fully understand the specific health risks cannabis poses for pregnant women and their fetuses, we are recommending stopping all cannabis use prior to conceiving and certainly once a woman knows she is pregnant," she added. 

Marijuana Scientists continue to explore the health benefits of cannabis amid the growing number of people welcoming the use of the drug. Pixabay