Marijuana: Pregnant Women Are Using More Cannabis, Says New Study

An expert speculates that the rise might be partially explained by the increased availability of legal marijuana in recent years

Overall there was a rise from around 4 percent to around 7 percent, researchers from healthcare consortium, Kaiser Permanente Northern California, found. For women in the 18 to 24 age bracket, marijuana usage spiked from 12.5 percent to 21.8 percent in that same period.

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

Participating women were asked to answer a questionnaire and go through a drug test to see if they tested positive for marijuana use.

The study also reported an increase in pot usage among older pregnant women ages 25 to 34.

Researchers looked at trends of prenatal cannabis use from 2009-2016 using data from a large California health-care system. However, there is insufficient data on link between marijuana use and fetal development.

All in all, "the paper is not surprising, and the findings of a rise in marijuana use during pregnancy is consistent with recent attention to marijuana and legalization in various states", said Dr. Haywood Brown, professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Duke University School of Medicine, who was not involved in the new study.

"Marijuana is the most commonly used illicit drug during pregnancy, and its use is increasing", the study said.

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 risky, even during pregnancy". However, on a federal level, it is still illegal to possess, use, buy, sell, or cultivate marijuana. These women start folic acid, lose weight and reduce medication exposure of any kind before becoming pregnant.

"Then there's the other group who take a more pragmatic view of pregnancy".

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