Nav: Home

Some pregnant women don't believe cannabis is harmful to their fetus

January 18, 2019

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.

Pregnant cannabis users were more likely to be under the age of 25, unemployed, single or uninsured, African American, and to have low income and education, or use other substances such as tobacco and alcohol. A diagnosis of anxiety or depression was also associated with cannabis use during pregnancy.

As for patterns of use, the researchers found that cannabis use rates were highest during the first trimester (7.4 per cent) and lowest during the third trimester (1.8 per cent). Most pregnant users reported using cannabis to treat nausea early in their pregnancy.

In one study involving 306 pregnant women, 35 per cent reported being cannabis users when they realized they were pregnant. Two-thirds of those women quit after finding out they were pregnant, but among those who continued to use cannabis, half reported using almost daily or twice a week.

When women were asked about their perception of general harm associated with cannabis use, 70 per cent of both pregnant and non-pregnant cannabis users responded that they perceived slight or no risk of harm. In another study, when asked if they believed cannabis is harmful to a baby during pregnancy, 30 per cent of pregnant women responded "no." When women were asked to identify substances most likely to harm the baby during pregnancy, 70 per cent chose alcohol and 16 per cent chose tobacco, while only two per cent chose cannabis.

While research on the health effects of cannabis is limited, some studies have shown an increased risk of problems for pregnant women, including anemia, low birth weight, stillbirth and newborn admission to the neonatal intensive care unit. Due to the risk of potential problems, many professional organizations, including the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada, recommend women not use cannabis when trying to conceive, during pregnancy and while breastfeeding.

Still, some women reported that not having specific counselling provided about the risks of cannabis use suggest that the drug is safe.

"One of our review findings revealed that some people don't consider cannabis to be a drug," said Bayrampour. "With this in mind, it's especially important for health care providers to ask specific questions about cannabis use during pregnancy and breastfeeding to help spark a productive conversation about the potential health impacts and to help support women in their decision to reduce use and quit."
-end-


University of British Columbia

Related Pregnancy Articles:

Paracetamol during pregnancy can inhibit masculinity
Paracetamol during pregnancy can inhibit masculinity Paracetamol during pregnancy can inhibit the development of 'male behavior' in mice.
The cost of opioid use during pregnancy
A new study published today by the scientific journal Addiction reveals that the incidence of neonatal abstinence syndrome -- often caused by mothers using opioids during pregnancy -- is increasing in the United States, and carries an enormous burden in terms of hospital days and costs.
New study: Pre-pregnancy BMI directly linked to excess pregnancy weight gain
It's well known that excessive weight gain during pregnancy can have a lasting negative impact on the health of a mother and her baby.
Pregnancy-specific β1-glycoproteins
Development of new strategies and novel drug design to treat trophoblastic diseases and to provide pregnancy success are of crucial importance in maintenance the female reproductive health.
Should hypothyroidism in pregnancy be treated?
When a woman becomes pregnant, many changes occur in her body.
Pre-pregnancy progesterone helps women with recurrent pregnancy loss
Women who have had two or more unexplained miscarriages can benefit from natural progesterone treatment before pregnancy, a new a study from the University of Illinois at Chicago shows.
Male pipefish pregnancy, it's complicated
In the upside-down world of the pipefish, sexual selection appears to work in reverse, with flashy females battling for males who bear the pregnancy and carry their young to term in their brood pouch.
Pregnancy leads to changes in the mother's brain
A study directed by researchers from the UAB and IMIM are the first to reveal how pregnancy causes long-lasting alterations in brain structure, probably related to improving the mother's ability to protect and interact with the child.
MRIs during pregnancy and outcomes for infants, children
In an analysis that included more than 1.4 million births, exposure to magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) during the first trimester of pregnancy compared with nonexposure was not associated with increased risk of harm to the fetus or in early childhood, although gadolinium MRI at any time during pregnancy was associated with an increased risk of a broad set of rheumatological, inflammatory, or skin conditions and, possibly, for stillbirth or neonatal death, according to a study appearing in the Sept.
The benefits of exercise during pregnancy
Women who exercise during pregnancy are more likely to deliver vaginally than those who do not, and show no greater risk of preterm birth.

Related Pregnancy Reading:

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Jumpstarting Creativity
Our greatest breakthroughs and triumphs have one thing in common: creativity. But how do you ignite it? And how do you rekindle it? This hour, TED speakers explore ideas on jumpstarting creativity. Guests include economist Tim Harford, producer Helen Marriage, artificial intelligence researcher Steve Engels, and behavioral scientist Marily Oppezzo.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#524 The Human Network
What does a network of humans look like and how does it work? How does information spread? How do decisions and opinions spread? What gets distorted as it moves through the network and why? This week we dig into the ins and outs of human networks with Matthew Jackson, Professor of Economics at Stanford University and author of the book "The Human Network: How Your Social Position Determines Your Power, Beliefs, and Behaviours".