Increasing number of women using marijuana during pregnancy
More pregnant women in the U.S. are using cannabis during their pregnancy says an annual drug use survey by the Journal of the American Medical Association. Since cannabis isn’t treated like cigarettes and alcohol yet, there are no laws forbidding doctors from recommending marijuana to pregnant women. More women are using marijuana, possibly to address symptoms of pregnancy like morning sickness.
In 2002, the percent of pregnant American women using marijuana was 2.4. In 2014, nearly 4 percent of expectant mothers claimed they used marijuana. While the numbers aren’t drastic, the increasing trend is causing concern for medical professionals.
Dr. Nora Volkow, the director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, wants to end the trend. She urges doctors and other health care providers to avoid recommending marijuana to pregnant women. Volkow believes the number of congenital disabilities associated with pregnant marijuana use will increase as well.
The Medical Marijuana States Don’t Prohibit Pregnant Cannabis Use
Medical Marijuana state laws do not ban the use or even require warnings about the possible harms to the fetus, Volkow noted. This could be due to a lack of substantial evidence on the associated harms other than low birth weights. However, women using pot during pregnancy may increase the chances of anemia and trips to the ICU. Additionally, Volkow claims memory and attention problems are more common in older children whose moms used marijuana while pregnant.
There is no explanation as to how marijuana use would lead to these issues. Dr. Volkow’s theory is it has something to do with the interference of forming nerve cells and circuits in the brain.
Dr. Volkow isn’t the only health professional discouraging marijuana use during pregnancy. In fact, The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists discourages marijuana use by pregnant or breastfeeding women.
Data On Drug Use Patterns
The support for marijuana legalization has reached an all time high. 89 percent of people said they support the legal use of medical cannabis. A poll from this year showed 1 out of every 8 adults now uses marijuana. That’s 10 million more in just the last 12 years. What these numbers mean is that more Americans and women are using weed in general.
A study published in The Lancet Psychiatry found fewer people are finding cannabis to be harmful to their health. This may be one of the reasons pregnant women have been more willing to use marijuana.
Stronger evidence on the harms of marijuana use during pregnancy are required so that doctors can make concrete recommendations. There are theories but no explanations as to how cannabis is causing defects. We don’t know if it’s the smoke that’s causing the issues or the cannabinoids. Until further research is done pregnant women that use weed may be gambling on the risk of birth complications.