January 05, 2017
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Young, pregnant women increasing marijuana use

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Clinicians expressed concerns about possible health problems in pregnant women who use marijuana and suggested more monitoring and research into its impact, according to a research letter published in JAMA. 

“These results offer an important step toward understanding trends in marijuana use among women of reproductive age,” Qiana L. Brown, PhD, MPH, LCSW, of Columbia University, and colleagues wrote. “Although the prevalence of past-month use among pregnant women, 3.85%, is not high, the increases over time and potential adverse consequences of prenatal marijuana exposure suggest further monitoring and research are warranted.”

Brown and colleagues reviewed responses from 200,510 women participating in the yearly National Survey on Drug Use and Health from 2002 to 2014. Of these women, 5.3% were pregnant, 29.5% were aged 18 to 25, and the remaining were aged 26 through 44.

Researchers reported that among all pregnant women, the adjusted prevalence of past-month marijuana use increased from 2.37% (95% CI, 1.85-3.04) in 2002 to 3.85% (95% CI, 2.87-5.18) in 2014. Also in 2014,  the adjusted prevalence of past-month marijuana use was highest among those aged 18 to 25 years, reaching 7.47% (95% CI, 4.67-11.93), significantly higher (P = .02) than among those aged 26 to 44 years (2.12% [95% CI, 0.74-6.09]). In 2014, past-year use was higher overall, reaching 11.63% (95% CI, 9.78-13.82) with similar trends over time.

For nonpregnant women in 2014, prevalence of past-month use was higher overall (9.27% [95% CI, 8.9-9.65] and past-year use prevalence was 15.93% (95% CI, 15.48-16.4), with similar trends over time.

“To ensure optimal maternal and child health, practitioners should screen and counsel pregnant women and women contemplating pregnancy about prenatal marijuana use,” researchers wrote, adding the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends these women be screened for and discouraged from using marijuana and other such substances.

Healio Family Medicine previously reported on a study that indicated more training is needed for physicians treating patients who are pregnant and use marijuana. – by Janel Miller

Disclosure: The researchers report no relevant financial disclosures.