A new study has found that cannabis consumption among pregnant women in the U.S. has doubled and is most common during the first trimester.
Researchers looked at data from 4,400 pregnant and 133,900 non-pregnant women who participated in the National Survey on Drug Use and Health and found that the percentage of pregnant women who reported consuming cannabis in the past month increased from 3.4 percent in 2002 to 7 percent in 2017. In the first trimester, cannabis use increased from 5.7 percent to 12.1 percent, with women reporting more medical use in the first trimester compared to the second and third trimesters.
Daily or near daily use in pregnant women between 2022 and 2017 increased from 0.9 percent to 3.4 percent, with daily use during the first trimester increasing from 1.8 percent to 5.3 percent. Pregnant women also reported consuming cannabis more days, with the average days of use increasing from 0.4 days to 1.1 days and 0.8 to 2 days in the first trimester.
While the health effects of cannabis on a fetus has yet to be established, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said it could lead to developmental problems and low birth weight. A study published last year found that most dispensaries recommended cannabis to pregnant women. Previous animal studies have linked high does of THC with fetal brain abnormalities, but it is unclear if it has the same effect on humans.
“Although many states have approved cannabis for nausea/vomiting (including in pregnancy), the results suggest that clinicians might not recommend it during pregnancy,” the study authors said.
A separate study among pregnant Canadian women, published in the same journal, found cannabis use during pregnancy was linked to a greater risk of premature birth. However, the researchers noted that those who admitted to cannabis use often also had other risk factors, such as smoking tobacco or drinking alcohol during pregnancy.