More pregnant women smoking marijuana for morning sickness

Desiree Steele
December 28, 2017

But the researchers believe that urine samples are likely to provide the most accurate picture of marijuana use in pregnancy, because people tend to hesitate about admitting such behaviors. The largest increase in use was found in subjects younger than 18 years of age to 24-year olds.

From 2009 to 2016, marijuana use among pregnant women increased from 4.2 percent to 7.1 percent in Kaiser Permanente's Northern California healthcare system.

Pregnant women are smoking more pot these days, according to a new Kaiser Permanente study, and as California embraces recreational marijuana in 2018, experts are concerned the trend may continue.

More than 20 percent of pregnant teenagers tested positive, and 19 percent of expectant mothers between 18 and 24 had used marijuana while they were pregnant.

There was one important caveat to the survey: Urine samples were taken at eight weeks of gestation, so pot use might have occurred before numerous women realized they were pregnant.

Worryingly, if women are not reporting their marijuana use in their medical records, their doctors are unable to counsel them about the risks of using marijuana, or what alternative reliefs for symptoms like nausea might be available.


The legalization of marijuana may have contributed to the increase in use found by the study, KABC reported.

Medical use of marijuana is already legal in California, which was one of the first states to legalize marijuana for that use two decades ago.

Prior U.S. studies had suggested that marijuana use was on the rise in pregnancy, "however, [those] studies are limited to self-reported surveys", Young-Wolff's group noted. "The brain develops through the whole pregnancy, so there is no safe window".

And with younger women, it appears mother tokes best. These women start folic acid, lose weight and reduce medication exposure of any kind before becoming pregnant.

"For individual patients, I think they need to ask themselves what their goals are for the pregnancy and how they are going to achieve them - essentially make a decision on which camp they are going to be in", she said.


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