Yes, you read that right. More pregnant women are using cannabis. This bit of news is something many people would surely find appalling, but a new study has found that a growing number of expectant mothers are turning to marijuana to address conditions such as morning sickness, nausea, and heightened anxiety.
According to a research letter that was published very recently in JAMA or the Journal of the American Medical Association, the prevalence of cannabis use among expectant moms in California rose from 4.2 per cent in 2009 to 7.1 per cent in 2016. The increase is even more significant among pregnant women who are younger.
Among pregnant women aged below 18, marijuana use increased from 12.5 per cent to 21.8 per cent. Among pregnant women aged 18 to 24, marijuana use climbed 9.8 per cent to 19 per cent.
Researchers examined medical records of more than 200,000 women in California who were enrolled with Kaiser Permanente Northern California health care system. As part of a normal 8th week prenatal checkup, the moms-to-be were required to fill out a standard medical questionnaire. There were also asked to voluntarily submit to a urine drug screening. This allowed the researchers to see how often expectant women admitted to consuming pot, as well as how many of them actually tested positive for it.
Same trend across the U.S.
The trend is not limited to just California. An earlier study also published in JAMA showed that the number of pregnant women across the United States, aged 18 to 44 years old, who reported using pot in the previous month rose from 2.37 per cent in 2002 to 3.85 per cent in 2014.
CDC and experts warn against using cannabis during pregnancy
There are legit concerns over how harmful cannabis use can be for babies and children whose brains have not yet fully developed, much more for the unborn.
The Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention stated that while women are turning to using cannabis to ease pregnancy symptoms like nausea and morning sickness, there are still not enough research on the health effects of weed on the fetus. According to the CDC, these effects could include development problems and low birth weight.
Additionally, the CDC noted that experts are advising pregnant women against using marijuana. The CDC pointed out that chemicals contained in cannabis like THC could pass to the baby through the mother’s system, and this could adversely affect the infant’s health.
Meanwhile, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists previously released a committee opinion stating that pregnant women or women who are trying to conceive should be encouraged not to use cannabis or to discontinue using cannabis for medical purposes in favor of alternative therapy.
According to the ACOG, there are insufficient data for them to be able to evaluate the effects of using weed on babies during lactation and breastfeeding. And in the absence of this data, they are discouraging the consumption of cannabis during pregnancy.
The ACOG’s committee opinion also noted that the effects of cannabis use during pregnancy could be as serious as the effects of consuming alcohol or smoking cigarette. These effects include lower birth weights for babies whose mothers smoke plenty of pot. What’s more, cannabis use during the first month of gestation could increase the likelihood of the baby suffering from anencephaly, which is a very rare birth defect.