Legalizing marijuana has done a lot for improving access to pain management tools in a number of states. Another area where the use of marijuana is increasing is use by pregnant women, according to studies by JAMA.
Women who are carrying a new life face a daunting list of do’s and don’ts. Among those, the use of illegal narcotics is a given. However, marijuana and its noted abilities to help with pain and stomach discomfort make it a gray area for some moms-to-be who think they may never keep food down again.
California residents show the increase in measurable statistics. A study of almost 300,000 pregnant women in California found that the rate of women using marijuana increased from 4 percent in 2009 to 7 percent in 2016.
A study published in JAMA Internal Medicine in 2018 noted that women who face severe nausea and vomiting tended to turn to marijuana at a much higher rate than those who dealt with minor symptoms. Women dealing with nausea more regularly were almost four times more likely to resort to marijuana use.
Considering that recreational marijuana use was legalized in the state of California in 2018, the rate of consumption by pregnant women may have increased even more.
Studies of how marijuana impacts a fetus, and later a newborn, show that the compound reaches the baby through the placenta and also is found in breast milk. However, the impact of marijuana on the baby itself is an area of dispute.
Some studies have blamed low birth weight and increased risk of time spent in the Neonatal Care Unit on marijuana use. Other studies determined that marijuana use by the expecting mother had no impact on the baby whatsoever.
The study of marijuana use is difficult, given that studies typically involve a control group that does not use the substance and a group that uses a specific amount assigned by the study organizer. The ethics of encouraging marijuana use in a pregnant woman means this type of study is not conducted. Therefore, the data available is minimal and can lead to conflicting results. While this means uncertainty in the risk to the unborn child, it’s worth noting that today’s available marijuana has increased in potency, compared to that available in previous decades.
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