“Frequent cannabis use among pregnant women raises important public health concerns, as initial evidence suggests that heavier use might be associated with worse neonatal health outcomes,” wrote Kelly Young-Wolff, Ph.D., M.P.H., of Kaiser Permanente Research and colleagues. “Pregnant women who use cannabis more frequently during pregnancy are also more likely to use other drugs, and future research is critically needed to examine the short- and long-term health outcomes for mothers and their offspring associated specifically with daily [versus] occasional cannabis use during different time points in pregnancy.”
Young-Wolff and colleagues assessed Kaiser health records on 276,991 women who became pregnant between January 1, 2009, and December 31, 2017, and completed an assessment of their current and past cannabis use during their first prenatal visit. The final analysis included 367,403 pregnancies (75,234 women had more than one pregnancy during the study period).
The researchers found that the average number of women who reported daily, weekly, or monthly cannabis use during pregnancy or in the year prior increased between 2009 and 2017, with daily use rising the most rapidly. Between 2009 and 2017, the number of women who used cannabis daily in the year prior to pregnancy rose from 1.2% to 3.1%, while among pregnant women this number rose from 0.3% to 0.7%.
Younger women, black women, and women with lower average incomes were more likely to use cannabis before and during pregnancy.
Young-Wolff and colleagues noted that a previous analysis that confirmed prevalence of cannabis use during pregnancy using urine tests also reported increased use over time; this suggests that the current study findings are not simply the result of women being more willing to disclose their cannabis use due to wider social acceptance of the drug.
To read more about cannabis use, see the Psychiatric News article “Daily and High-Potency Use of Cannabis Linked to Psychosis.”