American researchers gathered thousands of Californian pregnant women, from all ages and social status, to determine how many of them consumed cannabis while carrying babies. Then, they compared the results to previous papers and realized that the amount obtained was higher than a few years ago. What really concerned the scientists, according to the research released Tuesday, was that not all the women knew they could harm their children by doing this.

The new study published Tuesday in the Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA) was led by the licensed clinical psychologist and research scientist, Kelly Young-Wolff, and Dr. Nancy Goler. They grouped around 300,000 women from the Kaiser Permanente Northern California Division of Research, a health care service, to see how many of them accepted having consumed marijuana in the past weeks.

Young-Wolff and Dr. Goler said that their study is critical because it “addressed key limitations” of prior studies by “investigating trends in prenatal marijuana use.” Also, they highlighted that they used data from a “large” California health care system with “gold standard universal screening for prenatal marijuana use.”

The youngest consumed the most

The experts asked the women to fill a questionnaire and go through a drug test to see if they resulted positive. Some of them accepted having consumed pot and also turned out positive on the tests. Likewise, others denied the questions but also resulted positive. It was impossible to know if these used the drug before they knew they were carrying a child.

Pregnant women consuming pot, California legal marijuana, Kaiser Permanente
The experts informed that more pregnant women from California are consuming cannabis pot, which might be due to its recent legalization. Image credit: Drugabuse

After the scientists compared the final 2016 data to data from 2009, they realized that the number of pregnant women consuming marihuana rose from 4.2 percent to 7.1 percent. Also, they saw that the women who mostly accepted doing it were those under 24 years of age.

In the 2016 overall, women of all ages increased their consumption of cannabis. But those who did it the most were mothers aged 18 to 24. According to the system, 1 out of 5 females from these ages turned positive in the tested.

Furthermore, the researchers wrote that nearly a quarter of mothers under the age of 18 had consumed cannabis.

Eight years have passed since 2009, and some teens who assured back then to have been under the effects of marihuana while pregnant, also agreed again in 2016 they kept doing it.

Researcher Young-Wolff said that she wasn’t “surprised” after the results she obtained. However, she expressed she was “concerned” about them because cannabis could potentially harm a baby inside a mother’s belly.

“We were concerned to find that the prevalence of marijuana use in pregnancy is increasing more quickly among younger females, aged 24 and younger, and to see the high prevalence of use in this age group,” Young-Wolff told Reuters.

Progressively increasing while pot became popular

Similar to this one, another study published in the same JAMA, but in January, threw some results that the scientists from this research employed.

The experts who performed the January study used data from the annual National Survey on Drug Use and Health and saw that the number of pregnant mothers consuming marijuana rose from 2.37 percent, in 2002, to 3.85 percent, in 2014. Additionally, just like Young-Wolff’s study, they concluded that women between 18 and 25 years old were who most liked to consume the drug.

Pregnant women consuming pot, California legal marijuana, Kaiser Permanente
Pregnant teenagers and mothers under 24 years old were who most turned to smoke weed. Image credit: Global News

The researchers said that pot was the drug that women “most commonly used” during pregnancy. Unfortunately, this one could “impair fetal growth and neuro-development.”

Another researcher from the Georgia State University, who was not involved in any of the studies, said that marijuana is being consumed every day more after the state of California legalized its recreational consumption. According to Barbara Yankey, this “has made people think of the drug as less dangerous, even during pregnancy.”

“In California, medical marijuana was legalized in 1996, and prenatal use may further escalate in 2018 when recreational marijuana is available legally,” the experts wrote on the study.

Against pregnant women consuming marijuana

Referring to the January research, Nora D. Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, wrote back then that some women preferred to use marijuana than feeling the morning sickness. However, she noted that they should avoid using the drug or another cannabinoid because “there is cause for concern.”

Pregnant women consuming pot, California legal marijuana, Kaiser Permanente
Health officials have warned people about the effects of cannabis on unborn babies. However, scientists agree there’s more research to be done. Image credit: Herb

There has been a lot of research going on lately focused on marijuana. Some of them have noted its benefits, but other its risks. Unfortunately, scientists still don’t know much about the effects on unborn babies – unlike alcohol effect’s, which are pretty bad.

A Centers for Disease and Control (CDC) research concluded that pregnant women using cannabis could harm their babies in different ways. Some of them could be born with weight issues, while others with developmental problems.

The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists disagreed with women consuming pot if they want to get pregnant, already expecting children, or breastfeeding.

Source: JAMA