According to a new report that summarizes findings from a national survey, an increasing number of pregnant women now say they have consumed cannabis while pregnant.
Researchers involved with the study presented their findings this week at a national medical meeting. Additionally, the findings were also published online in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
New Data on Cannabis Consumption and Pregnancy
The new study on weed and pregnancy was carried out by researchers at the National Institutes of Health and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
To complete the study, researchers analyzed data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH).
Specifically, they looked at data from 2002-2017. And they focused on responses from women aged 12 to 44 to questions about cannabis and pregnancy. There were 467,100 women who fell into this category.
After compiling and analyzing all this data, researchers identified a number of trends. Most notably, they found consistent increases in the number of women consuming cannabis at some point during pregnancy.
Key Trends Identified in the Research
In addition to the general increase in cannabis consumption among pregnant women overall, researchers also broke down data according to more specific criteria.
Specifically, they broke down data according to trimester and frequency of marijuana consumption. And they compared data from the earliest survey years (2002-2003) against data from the most recent survey years (2016-2017).
Key trends from the study include:
- Past-month cannabis use increased from 3.4 percent to 7.0 percent among all pregnant women who responded to the surveys.
- Similarly, past-month cannabis consumption among pregnant women in their first trimester rose from 5.7 percent to 12.1 percent.
- Daily or near-daily cannabis consumption among all pregnant women increased from 0.9 percent to 3.4 percent.
- Daily or near-daily marijuana consumption among pregnant women in the first trimester rose from 1.8 percent to 5.3 percent
- Additionally, daily or near-daily consumption went from 0.6 percent to 2.5 percent during the second trimester.
- Finally, daily or near-daily marijuana consumption among pregnant women in their third trimester rose from 0.5 percent to 2.5 percent.
It is not entirely clear why these numbers are increasing. But researchers suggested that consumption at early stages of pregnancy could be happening before women even know they are pregnant.
That would reflect similar increases in marijuana consumption among adult women who are not pregnant. According to the Associated Press, the number of women who are not pregnant who consume cannabis has also increased from roughly 7 percent to just under 12 percent.
Cannabis and Pregnancy
To date, there is no conclusive evidence of how cannabis consumption might affect babies.
According to the AP, some earlier studies suggested that cannabis consumption during pregnancy could be linked to premature birth and low birthweight. Additionally, some animal studies have seen fetal brain abnormalities from pregnancies with high doses of cannabis.
“Because we don’t know exactly how harmful it is, it’s better to err on the side of caution,” Dr. Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse and a lead researcher on the new study, told the AP.
However, Volkow and other researchers also said that further research is needed before there is any clear consensus regarding cannabis and pregnancy.