More pregnant women use marijuana, at least in California, a new study finds. According to the new study which was published in JAMA on Tuesday, they tested more than 275,000 pregnant women who were treated at one of the facilities in the Kaiser Permanente Northern California system. They asked these women to fill out a survey.
The women who were asked to complete the study were in the early part of their pregnancy. The survey contained questions about their use of marijuana within the past month. Additionally, the women also took a urine test. The scientists checked the data, which originates from eight years until now, and found that more pregnant women use marijuana, especially mothers who were younger than 18 at the time when they were pregnant, but also women who were between the ages of 18 and 24.
Nevertheless, there were also women who stated that they hadn’t used marijuana in the last month, although they had a positive urine test. That being said, it’s impossible to determine whether they used the drug before or after they found out that they are pregnant.
“That was not surprising, necessarily, but definitely concerning,” Kelly C. Young-Wolff, one of the authors of the study, told Newsweek.
Young-Wolf is a clinical psychologist and research scientist at the Kaiser Permanente Northern California Division of Research. The use of marijuana during the first few weeks of pregnancy has increased from roughly 4 to 7% from 2009 to 2016. The percentage of women who revealed that they used marijuana in pregnancy, and those who had positive urine tests has increased, which means that in general, the non-pregnant population could be using it, meaning that using marijuana has became more normal, at least in California.
“California is a little different in that we were the first state to legalize medical marijuana in 1996,” Young-Wolff told Newsweek. “Our data might be very different if you looked in another state. But California does tend to be a leader in terms of trends, and it may be indicative of what will be happening in other states in the future.”
In October, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists updated its committee opinion that more pregnant women are using marijuana and during the time that women are breastfeeding.
According to Newsweek, the committee opinion stated that even though most of the women think that smoking marijuana is safe during their pregnancy, they shouldn’t feel encouraged to use it, as scientists don’t yet know what smoking marijuana is doing to the fetuses, as definite study evidence doesn’t exist yet.
“The impacts of prenatal marijuana use haven’t been very well studied,” Young-Wolff said. “Data are really limited by the number and the quality of existing studies. Definitely, more research is needed.”
Still there are some “worrisome trends,” the committee wrote. “The effects of marijuana use may be as serious as those of cigarette smoking and alcohol consumption.”