More Pregnant Women are using Marijuana in U.S.: Study

Posted by Sagar Satapathy on December 23, 2016.

More pregnant women in the U.S. are using marijuana now than a decade ago, according to a new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Marijuana use among pregnant women in the country increased by 62 percent from 2002 to 2014, the study finds.

The study, which was based on an analysis of the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, included about 200,000 women between the age 18 to 44 years using marijuana to treat nausea and morning sickness. The researchers found that around four percent of the nation’s pregnant women used marijuana, compared with 2.5 percent in 2002.

However, the researchers suggest that while 4 percent "is not high, the increases over time and potential adverse consequences of prenatal marijuana exposure suggest further monitoring and research are warranted.”

The study also found that pregnant women ages 18 to 25 had the highest use of past-month marijuana compared to women ages 26 to 44, meaning younger women are at higher risk for prenatal complications.  According to the study, the rate of past-month marijuana use for women in the younger age group was 7.5 percent, compared with 2.1 percent for the women in the older group in 2014.

Notably, the main psychoactive component of marijuana, THC or tetrahydrocannabinol, can pass to the fetus through the placenta and to babies through breast milk. "Although the evidence for the effects of marijuana on human prenatal development is limited at this point, research does suggest that there is cause for concern,” the study authors observed.

As many as 29 states and Washington, D.C., have legalized marijuana for medical purposes. Nausea is a medically approved reason to take marijuana in these states, though no states specifically list pregnancy-related conditions as an indication to use marijuana.

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