cannabis use before and during pregnancy

Increased cannabis use before and during pregnancy has been reported in a recent study of pregnant women in Northern California.

With the increased use of cannabis due to increases in acceptance and legalization, a greater understanding of this drug, particularly in terms of adverse health effects, is necessary to inform people of the associated risks. It is also necessary to assess the trends in public use of the drug, particularly during pregnancy, in order to inform policy and practice. According to the researchers of a recent study published in JAMA Network Open,Cannabis use during pregnancy may adversely affect the health of pregnant mothers and the developing fetus. A growing body of literature suggests that prenatal cannabis use is associated with lower offspring birthweight, and there is evidence of possible adverse effects on other fetal and neonatal outcomes, as well as worse neuropsychological functioning among children exposed to cannabis in utero.”

The study assessed cannabis use among pregnant women in Northern California. Data was collected from more than 270,000 women who completed a questionnaire on cannabis use. The women self-reported on their cannabis use in the year prior to pregnancy, in addition to during pregnancy. The data was collected at the womens’ prenatal visits, which occurred at around 8 weeks’ gestation, between 2009 and 2017.

Over the study period (2009-2017), the adjusted cannabis use increased from 6.8 percent to 12.5 percent in the year prior to pregnancy. Self-reported cannabis use during pregnancy increased from 1.95 percent to 3.38 percent over the study period.

This study reported increases in cannabis use both in the year before pregnancy and during pregnancy, which according to the researchers may be “potentially associated with increasing acceptance of cannabis use and decreasing perceptions of cannabis-associated harms.” Increased use of cannabis during pregnancy is a significant public health concern. According to the authors of the study, “future research is critically needed to examine the short- and long-term health outcomes for mothers and their offspring associated specifically with daily vs occasional cannabis use during different time points in pregnancy, adjusting for co-use of other substances.”

Written by Deborah Tallarigo, PhD

Reference: Young-Wolff, K., Sarovar, V., Tucker, L-Y., Conway, a., Alexeeff, S., Weisner, C., Armstrong, MA., Goler, N. Self-reported Daily, Weekly, and Monthly Cannabis Use Among Women Before and During Pregnancy. JAMA Netw Open2019;2(7):e196471. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2019.6471


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