A Cannabis Conundrum Among Pregnant Women

A growing number of teens and young adults are using cannabis during their pregnancies.  In teen mothers younger than 18, researchers found that marijuana use jumped from about 13 percent to about 22 percent from 2009 to 2016. But what are the impacts on their unborn children, and what is the cause of the sudden rise? Scientists, using the data of nearly 280,000 mothers collected from Kaiser Permanente hospital systems, are investigating the rate of use and possible effects.

The included the results from a questionnaire conducted at an eight-week pregnancy visit and the drug test results, which researchers received two to four weeks after the questionnaire results.

The researchers found marijuana was the most common drug used during pregnancy. Around 55 percent of mothers who denied drug use on the survey tested positive for marijuana, and another 16 percent of respondents who disclosed drug use tested negative for marijuana. Researchers hypothesize that the recent legalization of marijuana has much to do with the uptick of women testing positive for drug use.

A public health researcher at the Georgia State University, Barbara Yankey, explains that cannabis use during pregnancy can lead to early labor, a restriction on fetal growth, birth before term, a low weight of birth and even the possibility for a stillbirth. Although she adds that the frequency and dose of cannabis are a considerable part of the pre-birth impacts, marijuana use in the early stages of pregnancy may not reflect the use during the rest of the pregnancy.

A professor and researcher at the University of Pennsylvania who was not involved in the study, Dr. Marcel Bonn-Miller, notes that the more we continue to study marijuana use during pregnancy, the more researchers can understand the negative impacts of cannabis on mothers and their unborn children.

What do you think is causing the rise in marijuana use among teen mothers? Do you have any ideas on how we can stop this? Let us know in the comments section below!


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