One-third of pregnant women do not believe cannabis poses a risk to their babies, according to a study published this month in the journal Preventive Medicine. Researchers reviewed six studies conducted in the United States and found marijuana use by pregnant women is increasing as more states legalize the drug for recreational use.
In one study, doctors tested hair and urine samples of pregnant women and found 28 percent tested positive for cannabis use. The studies also indicated that most pregnant cannabis users are under the age of 25, unemployed, single, and used other substances such as tobacco and alcohol. Many also suffered from anxiety or depression. Most of the women who used marijuana did so during the first trimester to treat nausea.
Many professional organizations such as the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that pregnant and nursing women avoid marijuana use. Studies show cannabis use during pregnancy causes increased risks of anemia, low birth weight, stillbirth, and newborn admission to neonatal intensive care units. But some of the women reported they did not receive any counseling from their health professionals regarding the risks of cannabis, a fact they interpreted to mean the drug is safe.
“With this in mind, it’s especially important for health care providers to ask specific questions about cannabis use during pregnancy and breastfeeding to help spark a productive conversation about the potential health impacts and to help support women in their decision to reduce use and quit,” Hamideh Bayrampour, the lead researcher, said in a statement. —Julie Borg