A study published in JAMA this week found that pregnant women in the USA who were heavy marijuana users had a much higher prevalence of poor medical and psychiatric outcomes compared to pregnant women who did not report such use. This well-designed study included data on 20,914,591 prenatal hospitalizations, of which 1.2% (249,084) involved cannabis use disorder (CUD) characterized by heavy, frequent use of the drug. In the final analysis, investigators found that women with CUD had a significantly higher prevalence of almost every medical and psychiatric outcome examined in the study including depression, anxiety, and nausea. These associations persisted in patients who used only marijuana without other substance use. In other words, these results were independently associated with marijuana use. Moreover, with this large and extensive dataset, researchers were also able to examine time trends in CUD among pregnant women. They found that the prevalence of CUD among pregnant women increased from 0.8% in 2010, to 2% in 2018, representing an overall increase of 150%.

Drug Free America Foundation epidemiologist Dr. Sharif Mohr commented, “In this rapidly changing marijuana landscape, studies like these underscore the importance of not only assessing the impacts of marijuana legalization on patterns of maternal cannabis use, but also of the need to educate all women of reproductive age on the adverse health impacts marijuana use can have on both their health and that of their infants. Additionally, there is an urgent need for policy makers to regulate cannabis packaging and advertisements to deter from false accusations that cannabis is safe for use during pregnancy and while breastfeeding.”

Source: Meinhofer A, Hinde JM, Keyes KM, Lugo-Candelas C. Association of Comorbid Behavioral and Medical Conditions With Cannabis Use Disorder in Pregnancy. JAMA Psychiatry. 2021 Nov 3. doi: 10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2021.3193. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 34730782.