Pot use among pregnant women of all ages continues rise

Pot use among pregnant women of all ages continues rise

Teens and young adults reported a particularly high use of marijuana compared to women over 24.

Overall there was a rise from around 4 percent to around 7 percent, researchers from healthcare consortium, Kaiser Permanente Northern California, found.

"Because of the possibility of concurrent use of marijuana and other substances of abuse, the evidence of its direct association with preterm labor, fetal growth restriction, preterm birth, low birthweight and stillbirth is still debatable, though these adverse effects lean more towards an increased likelihood of occurrence", public health researcher Barbara Yankey told Reuters in an email.

The data come from toxicology reports and a combination of self-reports in which pregnant females say they have used marijuana and positive toxicology reports.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has also cautioned against the use of marijuana among pregnant women, instead recommending alternative medicinal therapies. A total of 3.3 percent of women older than 34 also reported to using the drug during their pregnancy in 2016, an increase from 2.1 percent in 2009.

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An expert speculates that the rise might be partially explained by the increased availability of legal marijuana in recent years.

Many pregnant women are turning to the drug to treat morning sickness or anxiety associated with pregnancy.

California became the first USA state to legalize medical marijuana in 1996.

Along with advising against marijuana use, doctors have long advised pregnant women to avoid drinking alcohol during pregnancy. However, on a federal level, it is still illegal to possess, use, buy, sell, or cultivate marijuana.

"I have found that women frequently fall into two groups during pregnancy. They absolutely don't smoke, drink or use any drugs during pregnancy", said Horsager-Boehrer, who is an editor of the Your Pregnancy Matters blog.

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