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Cannabis consumption by pregnant women increased during pandemic according to new study

Research conducted before and during the pandemic shows a steady increase of 8.14 percent



Pregnant: A person holding a pregnancy test that is positive

A new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association has revealed that cannabis use among pregnant women increased during the pandemic.

Researchers from Kaiser Permanente compared figures of pregnant women consuming cannabis in Northern California during the pandemic to the numbers from the previous year.

The study involved analyzing urine toxicology tests of more than 95,000 women having their first prenatal visit in Northern California Kaiser Permanente. Kaiser Permanente is one of America’s leading health care providers. They collected the tests between January 2019 and December 2020 before comparing them to tests from 15 months prior to the start of the pandemic.

Pregnant women and cannabis

The results revealed a 25 percent increase in the rate of cannabis use. Prior to the pandemic, the rates of pregnant women using cannabis were at 6.75 percent. This rose to 8.14 percent during the lockdown.

The study did not show which type of cannabis product was consumed nor the concentration of CBD or THC.

In a press release, the lead author of the study, clinical psychologist, Kelly Young-Wolf said: “Our previous research has shown that the prevalence and frequency of prenatal cannabis use are increasing over time and that pregnant women are more likely to use cannabis if they are depressed, anxious, or have experienced trauma. It’s very possible that more pregnant women are using cannabis in an attempt to self-medicate these issues during the pandemic.”

She added: “The stay-at-home mandates, concerns about getting COVID-19, economic challenges, increased child-care burden, and other difficult aspects of the pandemic could contribute to pregnant women feeling more stressed and depressed during this time.”

Pregnancy safety

The authors of the study stressed the need for more research and that cannabis may not be a healthy choice during pregnancy.  They highlighted that women may be continuing their consumption habits from before pregnancy or trying to manage nausea or mood problems in the earlier stages.

The regional medical director for Kaiser Permanente’s Early Start prenatal health program, Deborah Ansley said:

It is also important for clinicians to discuss cannabis use with their patients. “We need to get the word out more effectively that cannabis is not a healthy choice during pregnancy. Women may be trying to manage nausea or mood problems early in pregnancy or may simply be continuing a habit from before they became pregnant. Clinicians — and people who work in cannabis dispensaries — need to help educate women that during pregnancy they should abstain from any type of cannabis use because of potential health risks to their babies.”

Is it safe?

There are limited studies of the effect of THC on expectant mothers but there are some on CBD.

A study from 2011 found that CBD had a potentially antiemetic effect which may help to suppress nausea. It is thought that this may be because of the interaction between CBD and 5-HT(1A) receptions located in the brain.

Further research is needed. However, the US Food and Drug Administration advises against the use of CBD or THC during pregnancy or breastfeeding. This is due to concerns that THC could potentially pass through the bloodstream leading to an increased risk of low birth weights.

Again more research is needed.

Read more: Does CBD or THC have an effect on our workout routines


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