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Using marijuana in pregnancy? Not a good idea

Using marijuana in pregnancy? Not a good idea


Claudia Boyd-Barrett

posted in Pregnancy

More women are using marijuana during pregnancy, according to a new study, and that could be a problem.

Health officials still don’t know whether marijuana is harmful to unborn babies, but limited research so far suggests it could be bad for their growth and brain development. Some chemicals in marijuana such as the psychoactive ingredient THC and herbicides used to grow the plants can cross the placenta to your baby.

Researchers analyzed surveys about marijuana use and the results of prenatal urine tests given to almost 300,000 pregnant women in northern California between 2009 and 2016. During that time, the number of women who screened positive for marijuana about two months into their pregnancy increased from 4 to 7 percent.

Younger pregnant women increased their marijuana use much more than older women, according to the findings. Women ages 18 through 24 almost doubled their use of the drug from 10 percent to 19 percent, the researchers found. Almost a quarter of pregnant women under 18 tested positive for marijuana.


The findings, published in a research letter in the Journal of the American Medical Association, were based on a specific region in California, a state where medical marijuana has been legal for many years. It’s likely marijuana use among pregnant women varies depending on location.

Nevertheless, a study in early 2017 based on national data also found a surge in marijuana use among pregnant women, although at a lower rate. In that study, the percentage of women using marijuana increased from just over 2 percent to almost 4 percent between 2002 and 2014.

It’s possible some women in the study had used the drug before they realized they were pregnant and then stopped. Marijuana can be detected in the urine for up to 30 days after use.

The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends women who are pregnant, planning to become pregnant or breastfeeding avoid using marijuana.

Some women swear marijuana helps with morning sickness. If that’s you, consider these 12 alternative ways to ease morning sickness instead.

Have you used or considered using marijuana during pregnancy? Are you surprised by this study’s findings?

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