A study, published this week in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), revealed that the number of pregnant women who are smoking pot increased 62 percent between 2002 and 2014. Researchers, led by Qiana Brown, an epidemiologist at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health in New York City, found that 3.9 percent of pregnant women reported using marijuana in 2014 compared to 2.4 percent who reported smoking pot in 2002. Researchers of the study used data collected from over 200,000 women, aged 18 to 44, who participated in the National Survey on Drug Use and Health between 2002 and 2014.
Detailed Statistics from the Survey
The study evaluated marijuana use in general, observing how behaviors varied across different age groups. According to the data, more women in general are smoking pot with numbers increasing from 6.3 percent in 2002 to 9.3 percent in 2014. The use was higher in women aged 18 to 25. The study observed past-month use and found that 7.5 percent of women in the younger age bracket had used marijuana compared to the 2.1 percent of the women aged between 26 to 44 who had used it. 5 percent of the women surveyed were pregnant.
Potential Hazards of Smoking Pot While Pregnant
Researchers expressed some concern regarding the results, stating that although the 3.9 percent “is not high, the increases over time and potential adverse consequences of prenatal marijuana exposure suggest further monitoring and research are warranted.” A recent study revealed that babies whose mothers smoked pot during the pregnancy were more likely to be born with lower birth weights, have anemia and need to be placed in neonatal intensive care. Older children were found to have memory and attention problems later in life. The neurodevelopment of the fetus is suspected to be affected by women smoking pot while pregnant, thus creating these problems for the child.
Limited Research Leaves More Questions
Dr. Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, wrote an editorial that was published alongside the study in JAMA. She expressed concern over the rising number of pregnant women using marijuana, stating “Although the evidence for the effects of marijuana on human prenatal development is limited at this point, research does suggest that there is cause for concern.” She discussed the risks and urged doctors and health care practitioners to avoid recommending it to pregnant women. Some of the women smoked pot to alleviate morning sickness and Volkow made it clear that no state where medical marijuana is legal has pregnancy or morning sickness on the list of qualifying conditions.
According to the study, more Americans in general are smoking marijuana, with the number doubling between 2001 to 2013. While more people are likely to consume it in places where it has been legalized, there is still a high percentage of use occurring in states where it is illegal. Medical marijuana is now legal in 28 states and Washington D.C. and recreational marijuana is now legal in 8 states as well as D.C. With adequate research and warnings, the increase may safely continue without harm.