Study: Women in the U.S. Are Increasingly Using Pot During Pregnancy

LONDON - JULY 18: In this photo illustration a pregnant woman is seen holding a cigarette on July 18, 2005, London, England. Research has shown that smoking during pregnancy damages a baby's airways before the child is born. (Photo illustration by Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images)

A new study shows that women in the United States are increasingly using marijuana during pregnancy to treat morning sickness, the Associated Press reports.

Almost four percent of pregnant women in 2014 said they had recently used marijuana, up from 2.4 percent in 2002, according to an analysis of annual drug use surveys.

This study analyzed the results of  200,510 women of reproductive age who responded to annual U.S. government surveys of drug use.

The trend has raised some concerns in the medical community, as doctors have warned that marijuana use during pregnancy can cause low birth weight, premature birth, and behavior problems in young children.

Dr. Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, said the results of the survey raise concerns and urged medical professionals to avoid recommending the drug for pregnant women.

A separate study found that almost 10 percent of adult marijuana users—about three million people—have used it at least partly for medical reasons; 20 percent of these users live in states where medical marijuana isn’t legal.

The study analyzed past-year marijuana use by nearly 100,000 adults aged 18 and up who participated in the 2013-14 drug survey.

About 13 percent said they had used marijuana in that survey. The majority of users—90 percent—used it for nonmedical reasons only, and six percent used it only for medical reasons.

Volkow said that laws legalizing medical marijuana in 29 states and the District of Columbia don’t include pregnancy-related conditions as approved uses, but don’t prohibit the use of medical marijuana for that reason either or include warnings about possible harms to an unborn baby.

One theory about how marijuana use can lead to problems in an unborn child is that it might interfere with nerve cells and circuits in the brain during development of the fetus, Volkow said.

The AMA pushed for regulations in November that would require warnings about marijuana use during pregnancy and breast-feeding to be displayed on medical and recreational marijuana products.


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