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Marijuana Increasingly Used by Pregnant Women for Morning Sickness

Marijuana Increasingly Used by Pregnant Women for Morning Sickness

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  • The use of marijuana during pregnancy has increased by 62%, finds a National Survey.
  • Women who have severe morning sickness are more likely to use marijuana than other pregnant women and it is used most commonly during the first trimester.
  • Marijuana use among non-pregnant women has risen to 9%.

Marijuana usage has increased by 62% among pregnant women from 2002 to 2014, revealed a new study published in the Journal of American Medical Association. These findings are a cause for concern as exposure to marijuana during early stages can lead to anemia, low birth weight and with a higher risk of being placed in neonatal intensive care.

Dr. Nora D. Volkow who is the director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse cautions that there are many websites that promote the use of marijuana during pregnancy, however, there are serious health complications for the newborn. She urges doctors to look into health risks associated with marijuana use, which should prevent them from recommending its use.


Marijuana Increasingly Used by Pregnant Women for Morning Sickness

The maximum use of marijuana was during the first trimester of pregnancy, the same period at which the use is found to be highly risky for the fetus. Though there are no conclusive studies that detail the risks involved in marijuana use, it is believed to cause impairment in impulse control, attention during school years and visual memory. The increased use of marijuana during pregnancy leads to increased thickness of the frontal cortex during school years and poor fetal growth during pregnancy.

Recommendations from The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology: Women considering pregnancy, pregnant or breastfeeding women should be discouraged from marijuana and other substance use.

The study used data from annual National Survey on Drug Use and Health from 2002 to 2014 which included women from 18 years to 44 years. Researchers assessed data from 200,510 women of reproductive age, including 10,587 pregnant women.
  • There was an increase in marijuana use in 2014, compared to previous years by 62%.
  • Younger women were found to use marijuana more often than older women. Maximum use of marijuana was identified among women between the ages 18 and 25.
  • The use of marijuana among women who were not pregnant increased from 6% in 2002 to 9% in 2014.
  • Marijuana was found to be the most commonly used banned drug, according to Volkow.
  • Pregnant women who suffered from intense vomiting had a higher chance of using marijuana than other pregnant women.
Marijuana is a banned drug but certain people continue to use and recommend these drugs as a treatment option for hyperemesis gravidarum, which is characterized by excessive vomiting, dehydration, sometimes even requiring intravenous glucose intake.

In the US, Washington D.C and 29 states allow the use of marijuana for medical reasons and vomiting is one among them. There is no specific clause added to pregnancy so people continue to use them, without understanding the long-term complications on the health of the fetus.

Though the total number of pregnant women who use marijuana is not very high and only 4% of women use the drug during pregnancy, there could be an increase over time along with the risks associated with use before pregnancy.


Marijuana refers to the dried stem, leaves and flowers of the plant Cannabis sativa and it contains the 'mind altering chemical' called delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and other similar chemicals.

Marijuana is the most popular and easily accessible drug in The U.S. In a study conducted on high school students, it was found that marijuana use has plateaued though there was a steady increase a few years earlier. The number of people, however, who believe that the use of marijuana is bad for health, is decreasing. People, who have used drugs that are less common, are more likely to have used this drug. Most people who use marijuana never move on to other drugs and this drug is considered the 'gateway drug'.

Less than 10% of people who are on marijuana become dependent on the drug and this drug is normally used to ease pain and to lower withdrawal symptoms associated with tobacco and alcohol use. The use of this drug as a pain reliever continues to its use as a remedy for morning sickness among pregnant women. However, the use is not only hazardous to the baby during pregnancy but is found to affect the child even during school going years. This has motivated medical experts to strongly condemn the use of marijuana during pregnancy as well as use months prior to pregnancy.

References :
  1. Is marijuana a gateway drug? - (http://www.drugpolicy.org/facts/drug-facts/marijuana/marijuana-gateway-drug)
  2. What is marijuana? - (https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/marijuana)

Source: Medindia

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