Marijuana use increases among pregnant women in California, study says

A study of mothers-to-be in California found an increase in marijuana use especially among younger women.

Broadening the scope, CNN noted a separate study published in JAMA that revealed an increase in the use of marijuana among pregnant women across the US had increased from 2.37 percent in 2002 to 3.85 percent in 2014. For women 18 to 24, the climb was from 9.8 percent to 19 percent.

Teens and young adults reported a particularly high use of marijuana compared to women over 24.

Almost 300,000 pregnant women at facilities in Kaiser Permanente Northern California responded to a survey about their pot use, and also gave samples of urine for a toxicology analysis.

In October, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists put out an update to its committee opinion on marijuana use during pregnancy and while a woman is breastfeeding. Numerous chemicals in marijuana, like tetrahydrocannabinol, known as THC, could pass through a mother's system to her baby.

With medical marijuana and legal recreational use spreading across the country, it seems as though the movement has extended to moms-to-be, according to a new study.

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"Because of the possibility of concurrent use of marijuana and other substances of abuse, the evidence of its direct association with preterm labor, fetal growth restriction, preterm birth, low birthweight and stillbirth is still debatable, though these adverse effects lean more towards an increased likelihood of occurrence", Yankey continued.

Opponents of decriminalising or legalising cannabis warn it will undermine public health, pointing in particular to the risk of increased use among teenagers whose developing brains are more vulnerable.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has also cautioned against the use of marijuana among pregnant women, instead recommending alternative medicinal therapies. Pregnant women who reported to have consumed marijuana in the past month jumped from 2.37 percent to 3.85 percent from 2002 to 2014.

Young-Wolff said marijuana usage increased the most in young females.

Barbara Yankey, a researcher at Georgia State University, told Reuters marijuana use may be on the rise because of the recent legalization of its recreational use "has made people think of the drug as less unsafe, even during pregnancy". The potency of the pot can also affect the results.

In spite of its wide use, the new research suggests that pregnant women are still aware of some stigma against them for partaking in a toke or an edible.

  • Ismael Montgomery