Experts are concerned, as cannabis usage becomes more prevalent, more pregnant women continue to consume it. In this article, everything you need to know about pregnant women using marijuana.
A recent survey indicated that cannabis use among pregnant women has climbed, while cigarette and alcohol consumption have decreased.
In a study of 12,988 pregnant women, the percentage of women who smoked cigarettes decreased from 17.5% in 2002 to 10% in 2016, while alcohol consumption decreased from 10% in 2002 to 8.5% in 2016. Cannabis was the only one of the three substances to rise. In 2002, 3 percent of women utilized it, whereas in 2016 that number increased to 5 percent.
The paper authors from the Washington University School of Medicine claimed, “Unlike alcohol and cigarette use, prenatal cannabis usage has not declined, especially during the first trimester of pregnancy, which is a crucial phase of neural development for the fetus.”
The authors urged more public understanding of the effects of prenatal cannabis exposure on the health of offspring.
Why do pregnant women ingest cannabis? Others may have used it prior to conception and during their pregnancy, claiming it to be an effective anti-nausea medication.
Kelly C. Young-Wolff, PhD, a drug misuse researcher at Kaiser Permanente Northern California, stated that prenatal marijuana usage has increased as a result of changes in marijuana’s legalization, accessibility, and social acceptance.
She stated that there are preliminary indications that women view marijuana as natural and therefore safe to consume during pregnancy.
Additionally, dispensaries may mislead customers. In a study released this past summer, researchers posed as pregnant women and contacted 400 randomly chosen Colorado cannabis dispensaries.
They discovered that more than a third of dispensaries recommended marijuana as safe during pregnancy. And 69% of them suggested cannabis for nausea relief.
Recently, Young-Wolff has also investigated the potential of marijuana to alleviate nausea. Her team published last month that the prevalence of prenatal marijuana usage was much higher among pregnant women experiencing nausea and vomiting, and that some women may use marijuana to self-medicate morning sickness.
She stated that additional research is required to comprehend why more pregnant women are smoking marijuana.
The a recent article, Pediatrics did not speculate on the cause of the increase in cannabis usage among pregnant women; it merely published data indicating that more women are consuming cannabis during pregnancy.
“The combination of assuming that cannabis may be relatively harmless, may have medical use, and may even help with pregnancy-related symptoms such as nausea may be preventing its use during pregnancy from decreasing,” said Arpana Agrawal, PhD, a professor at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Missouri, and lead author of the recent report.
Colorado doctor Dr. Jeffrey Brown told Healthline that he believes prenatal marijuana use has increased due to greater accessibility.
“Since the legalization of marijuana in the state, it has become much easier to get,” he remarked.
In addition, many women who migrated to a state to lawfully use marijuana for recreational purposes became pregnant and continue to consume the cannabinoid tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) during pregnancy.
Brown stated that he was unaware of any obstetricians that issue medical marijuana cards to pregnant patients who qualify, allowing them to purchase marijuana for medical purposes. In several places, women can legally acquire medical marijuana without a prescription.
“My impression is that pregnant women who use marijuana did so recreationally prior to becoming pregnant and continued to do so after becoming pregnant,” he said.
IN A DATA QUANDARY?
Some women may view cannabis as natural and hence harmless. This could be a contributing factor to the increase.
Cannabis has not been studied on pregnant women for fear of damaging either the mother or the unborn child. Animal studies have connected it to an increased risk of underweight and preterm births.
Although the health implications of prenatal cannabis usage are complex and poorly understood, no amount of cannabis has been proven safe during pregnancy, according to Young-Wolff. “Marijuana can pass the placenta and has the potential to affect the brain development of infants exposed prenatally.”
Insufficient research indicates a linkage between prenatal marijuana use and developmental delays or challenges with executive functioning, such as problems with impulse control and attention, in the kid.
Young-Wolff stated that it is difficult to obtain data on the health impacts. Some women may not wish to disclose their marijuana use to their physicians. Some studies contain self-reported data.
Studies indicate that pregnant marijuana users frequently use other substances, and it is difficult to separate marijuana-specific health hazards. In addition, there is a lack of research regarding the effects of marijuana based on the method of consumption, such as smoking versus vaping or eating edibles.
However, leading medical groups have a clear view on cannabis use during pregnancy. According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), there are no accepted indications or recommendations for the use of marijuana during pregnancy.
ACOG recommends that physicians check pregnant women for marijuana usage and advise against it. The American Academy of Pediatrics discourages marijuana use during pregnancy and lactation.
According an article on the effects of marijuana use during pregnancy, physicians who recommend medical marijuana should be aware of the potential hazards of marijuana use during pregnancy and should not promote the substance to pregnant women.
Kevin Sabet, head of Smart Approaches to Marijuana, believes that the vast majority of the marijuana industry is attempting to market the drug to pregnant women.
“Unfortunately, the marijuana industry continues to propagate the falsehood that their ultra-potent THC is beneficial for pregnant women,” he stated. He feels that physicians are aware of the risks to women, which is why many advise against its use.
“This occurrence is part of a larger narrative: The marijuana industry is attempting to persuade Americans that they have a miraculous drug — one that can fill state coffers, end the opioid epidemic, treat cancer, rid the streets of dangerous cartels, and even help pregnant women,” he added. It’s the tobacco industry all over again.
Women can take steps to stop using marijuana regardless of when or why they began consuming. Attempting to quit abruptly may result in mild withdrawal symptoms, including anxiety and cravings.
Current users should consult with their physicians, as programs have shown beneficial in assisting women to quit drug usage, even if only until the time of delivery.
A new study discovered that cannabis usage among pregnant women has increased from 3 to 5%, while alcohol and cigarette use have decreased.
Agrawal stated that ultimately, more research is required to comprehend the impacts of marijuana on mothers and infants. The psychotropic components of cannabis are known to cross the placental barrier and hence no amount of cannabis, alcohol, tobacco, or other illicit drugs are considered safe during pregnancy.
In addition to avoiding marijuana usage during pregnancy, women should also refrain from using it throughout breastfeeding.
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