Are Pregnant Women Using Marijuana More?


pregnant woman holding her stomach after smoking marijuana.

New federal data shows that while fewer women are taking in cigarettes and alcohol during pregnancy, more are using marijuana. A research letter published in JAMA Pediatrics examines the data, gathered between 2002 and 2016.

According to the data, the percentage of pregnant women who reported smoking cigarettes during pregnancy changed from 17.5% to around 10%. Alcohol use also fell from nearly 10% to close to 8.5%. While cannabis use among pregnant women is rare, the data shows it has increased from near 3% of pregnant women in the data collection, to almost 5%.

The National Survey of Drug Use and Health provided the data, which came from 12,000 pregnant women ages 18 to 44. Close to 3,500 of these women were in their first trimester of pregnancy, a critical time for fetal development in general but specifically and crucially, of brain and neurological function.

The CDC asks expectant mothers not to use the drug while pregnant, due to potential developmental harms for infants. While pot and cigarette smoke differ, they both are known to cause harm to the lungs, as reported in the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).

According to NIDA, “Marijuana smoking is associated with large airway inflammation, increased airway resistance, and lung hyperinflation, and those who smoke marijuana regularly report more symptoms of chronic bronchitis than those who do not smoke.”

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