More than four percent of American women use marijuana during pregnancy, new data from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows.
And more than 80 percent said doctors had told them that marijuana can pose risks – such as low birth weight – to their babies.
The CDC’s report only included data on women from eight states – of which only one (Maine) is among the top 10 places in the US where marijuana is most commonly used – suggesting that actual marijuana use during pregnancy is higher could be.
According to the report, women in Maine were most likely to use marijuana at any time, and more than 12 percent reported using the drug during pregnancy.
It comes after a Canadian study found that autism was nearly twice as common in children of women who used marijuana during pregnancy compared to those who didn’t, demonstrating the common drug’s risks for embryo development.
According to new CDC data, more than four percent of American women use marijuana during pregnancy – despite the risks of low birth weight or autism for their unborn babies,
At least two percent of women in eight states reported using marijuana during pregnancy (medium blue), with the highest rates among women in Maine, 12% of whom use the drug
Most midwives warn women against using marijuana during pregnancy.
However, there is still much to learn about exactly what it could do in developing babies, and some pharmacies and health care providers are even encouraging the use of marijuana to suppress morning sickness.
What is more known is the risk of smoking during pregnancy.
Smoking increases the risk of babies being born prematurely, being underweight, and possibly having defects in their mouth or lips.
It also increases the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (sudden infant death syndrome).
And while the research that identified these risks has been done in the field of cigarette smoking, it’s hardly a challenge to extend the findings to marijuana smoke, which contains similar harmful fine particles from burning plant matter.
The vast majority (91 percent) of pregnant women who reported using marijuana did so by smoking it.
Another 12 percent said they were using marijuana edibles and seven percent said they vaped cannabis.
In each state, at least two percent of the 7,688 women enrolled in the surveillance system reported using marijuana during pregnancy.
Rates were lowest in New York, where 2.6 percent of women used marijuana.
A total of 413 women said they used marijuana during pregnancy, and 81.5 percent said they used it to relieve anxiety and stress.
Nearly 78 percent said it relieved symptoms of nausea (often associated with pregnancy) and 55 percent said it helped with pain.
More than 80% of women said the reason they used marijuana during pregnancy was to reduce stress and anxiety (top). Other common reasons were to relieve nausea, pain, or a chronic condition – or just to have fun
Another 46 percent of women said it was a form of recreation for them, while about a quarter said marijuana helped them cope with a chronic condition.
Many women used marijuana in conjunction with cigarettes and alcohol, each of which has its own risks for both the mother and the developing baby.
Research has found that women who use marijuana during pregnancy are 50 percent more likely to have a low birth weight baby.
And in a recent study from the University of Ottawa, the autism rate was found to be twice as high in women who used marijuana during pregnancy.
The incidence of autism was four per 1000 person-years among children exposed to cannabis during pregnancy, compared to 2.42 among unexposed children.
“There is some evidence that more people are using cannabis during pregnancy,” said Professor Mark Walker, senior study author at the University of Ottawa in Canada.
This is alarming because we know so little about the effects of cannabis on pregnant women and their babies.
“Parents-to-be should educate themselves about the potential risks, and we hope studies like ours can help.”