A new study shows that marijuana use by pregnant women in the U.S. increased by a significant 62% between 2002 and 2014. The investigators found out that about 4% of expectant mothers reported on a government survey of 2014 that they had used weed in the last month of their pregnancy. This was an increase from 2.4% that was reported in a 2002 survey. Even though the rate of about 4% is not quite high, the increase over this time and the potential negative effects of prenatal weed exposure suggests that more tracking and research is needed. This was a view expressed by Qiana Brown who is an epidemiologist at the Mailman School of Public Health from the Colombia University, New York City. Almost 4 million women delivered in the United States in 2014, a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said so.
Generally, Americans have been using more cannabis since 2001 based on a research that was published on December 19, 2016. In a previous research, cannabis use among adults increased more than double between 2001 and 2013. All the same, it was not clear whether the use of cannabis changed in non-pregnant and pregnant women within the reproductive age. In yet another study, investigators reviewed data on more than 200,000 women between the ages of 18 and 44 who had done a National Survey on Drug Use and Health through the years between 2002 and 2014. The yearly survey on the use of drugs takes into account issues concerning the drug use of the participant in the preceding month. Almost 5% of the women or roughly 10,500 women were expectant when they did the survey. Apart from the general rate of marijuana use, the investigators also considered the rate of weed use against the age groups. It was found that the rate of cannabis use was much higher among women between 18 and 25 years of age than it was the case for women over 25 years and below 45 years. Recently in 2014, the rate of previous-month marijuana use among women in the younger group was about 7.5% whereas in the older one, it was 2.11%.
For the non-pregnant women within the reproductive age, the previous-month marijuana use rates increased to 9.3% in 2014 from 6.3% in 2002. To be sure of maximum child and maternal health, practitioners were required to screen and counsel expectant women and women considering pregnancy. Most importantly, there were expected to advise them on prenatal cannabis use. Dr. Nora Volkow from the National Institute on Drug Abuse alongside other two colleagues reiterated that there is a cause of concern even though the effects of cannabis on prenatal development are not fully exploited at this point. For instance, a recent assessment and meta-review established that, babies born to women who smoke weed in their pregnancy period were highly expected to be anemic, in need of placemen in neonatal intensive care and have lower weights of birth compared to babies of those who didn’t use weed. Therefore, there is a cause of concern as highlighted here even though there may not be any scientific details to support this.
It was also reported that weed could interfere with the neuro development of the developing fetus during the initial stages of pregnancy. All the same, one impediment to this study came in during the separation of cannabis use effects during pregnancy from other substances such as tobacco and alcohol that are often taken at the same time. These were noted as the main limitations of the research. There was overreliance on the part of the researchers on self-reports of the women concerning the use of weed.