According to a research letter submitted this week to the Journal of the American Medical Association, a growing number of pregnant women are using cannabis. Most appear to be using it for treating morning sickness, while others are using it for anxiety – or both.
The findings are based on a study of approximately 310,000 patient records obtained from a California health care organization. An examination of the data showed that the percentage of women who used cannabis during pregnancy across the board rose from 4.2 in 2009 to 7.1 in 2016. Among younger women (age 18 to 24), those figures were more than double. Because the information was taken from self-reported surveys, the researchers believe that actual figures may be higher.
Another study appearing in the JAMA at the beginning of 2017 found that the use of cannabis among expectant mothers rose by nearly two-thirds between 2002 and 2014. Based on data taken from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, this study also found that younger women were the most likely to self-medicate with marijuana.
All of this raises questions of what effects this has on the developing fetus. A number of earlier studies have found an association between fetal exposure to marijuana and low birth rate and increased need for neonatal intensive care. Unfortunately, a number of Internet websites have been recommending that pregnant women use marijuana to relieve the symptoms of morning sickness.
In fact, medical marijuana is a commonly-accepted treatment for nausea, and has been approved by the FDA for cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy for this very purpose. Both THC (the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis) and CBD are quite effective in mediating such symptoms.