Up to one-third of pregnant women do not believe cannabis is harmful to their fetus, according to a new review by UBC researchers.
In some cases, women perceived a lack of communication from their health care providers about the risks of cannabis as an indication that the drug is safe to use during pregnancy.
The findings are outlined in a new review, published in the journal Preventive Medicine, in which UBC researchers sought to identify the latest evidence on women’s perspectives on the health aspects of cannabis use during pregnancy and post-partum and whether their perceptions influence decision-making about using the drug.
“Our research suggests that, over the past decade, more women seem to be using cannabis during pregnancy than ever before, even though evidence of its safety is limited and conflicting,” said lead author Hamideh Bayrampour, assistant professor in the UBC department of family practice and affiliate investigator at BC Children’s Hospital Research Institute. “As many jurisdictions around the world, including Canada, legalize cannabis, it’s becoming increasingly important for public health officials to understand perceptions of cannabis use and to increase awareness of the health concerns around its use, especially for pregnant women.”
For the review, researchers identified six studies, all conducted in the United States, which looked at women’s perceptions about cannabis use during pregnancy.
Across the studies, the rate of cannabis use among pregnant women varied considerably. In a large U.S. population-based study, nearly four per cent of women self-reported using cannabis within the past month, while seven per cent self-reported using cannabis within the past year. However, in another study that saw researchers also test hair and urine samples, the rate of cannabis use increased to 28 per cent.
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