Published: Thu, December 28, 2017
Health Care | By Alberto Manning

Marijuana Use Among Pregnant Women Rises, Study Says

Marijuana Use Among Pregnant Women Rises, Study Says

Even in the Kaiser study, women's self-report of marijuana use in pregnancy was considerably lower than that revealed by urine samples.

A growing number of pregnant women are using marijuana, and the habit is expanding fastest among teens and young adults, a USA study suggests. Cannabis use in pregnant teens under 18 increased from 12.5 percent to 21.8 percent, while use in women 18 to 24 increased from 9.8 percent to 19 percent.

More than one-fifth of American teenagers are using marijuana during pregnancy, a new study finds.

The study notes that marijuana is "the most commonly used illicit drug during pregnancy", adding that use of the drug has been increasing. "California legalized medical marijuana use in 1996, so they have grown up with the idea of it not only not being illegal but being a medical therapy", Dr. Horsager-Boehrer told CNN. Numerous chemicals in marijuana, like tetrahydrocannabinol, known as THC, could pass through a mother's system to her baby.

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They also say that "there are insufficient data to evaluate the effects of marijuana use on infants during lactation and breastfeeding, and in the absence of such data, marijuana use is discouraged".

The Kaiser Permanente researchers analyzed medical records from more than 30,000 pregnant women in its insurance network in California.

Whatever the reasons, the findings could be bad news for babies, since "initial evidence suggests that prenatal marijuana may impair fetal growth and neurodevelopment", Young-Wolff's group said. "The effects of marijuana use may be as serious as those of cigarette smoking or alcohol consumption".

"More research is needed on how marijuana use during pregnancy could impact the health and development of infants", the US government's National Institute on Drug Abuse stated on its website. Timing may be important, too; marijuana use in the first month of a pregnancy may increase the likelihood of a very rare birth defect called anencephaly. But even so, more mothers are willing to run the risk, it seems. "It does vary quite a bit, which makes it tricky", Young-Wolff said. Anecdotally, Young-Wolff said, some women may take marijuana while they're pregnant to deal with morning sickness.

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