The good news is that fewer pregnant women are drinking booze and smoking cigarettes, according to a new study published in JAMA Pediatrics. But the bad news is that more expectant mothers are using marijuana, which may also pose a developmental threat to their babies.
The percentage of pregnant women who smoked cigarettes while expecting a baby fell significantly, from 17.5% to about 10%, according to research published in JAMA Pediatrics. Alcohol usage also dropped during this time period, from nearly 10% to about 8.5% from 2002 to 2016. But cannabis usage among pregnant women appears to be on the rise, perhaps due to its legalization. That number bumped up from 3% of pregnant women to nearly 5%.
Those statistics are based on responses to the National Survey of Drug Use and Health. The study looked at about 12,000 pregnant women ages 18 to 44 who took the survey between 2002 and 2016. About 3,500 of those women were in their first trimester of pregnancy, a very critical time for fetal development.
Marijuana use during pregnancy can be harmful to the baby’s health, as the CDC reports. The chemicals in marijuana, such as tetrahydrocannabinol or THC, pass through the mother’s system to the baby and can harm the baby’s development. Although more research is needed to understand how marijuana affecst the fetus, the CDC recommends that mothers to be abstain.
“The main takeaway is that women should not use marijuana throughout pregnancy,” says Seth Ammerman, M.D., clinical professor in the Division of Adolescent Medicine, Department of Pediatrics at Stanford University, told SELF. “There’s limited evidence, but what evidence is out there says that it could cause adverse consequences to the developing fetus, as well as even further on in infancy and childhood.”
More women are using marijuana while pregnant: study