Alarming Trend: Pot Use Among Pregnant U.S. Women Is Increasing -- Can We Prevent It?

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Marijuana use among pregnant U.S. women has doubled, a government survey found out, highlighting that it is most common during the first trimester.

The U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration conducted a representative health survey among 467,000 women between 2002 and 2017. The research team, led by Dr. Beth Han reported that the percentage of women who confessed they had used cannabis at least once during their pregnancy doubled from 3.4 percent in 2002 to 7 percent in 2017.

It is worth mentioning that pot usage during the first trimester went up from 6 to 12 percent. According to Dr. Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, and one of the authors of the study, many women used cannabis during that period without realizing they were pregnant. 

However, many others turned to marijuana to ease morning sickness, added Volkow, highlighting that some respondents even admitted a doctor had recommended it.

Dr. Volkow explained that previous scientific studies linked marijuana use during pregnancy with increased risks of premature birth and low birth weight. The researcher also asserted that animal studies had proved a link between usage of high doses of cannabis early in pregnancy and some fetal brain abnormalities. 

Whether marijuana could cause similar effects among human beings remains unknown, said Volkow. In conclusion, the researcher suggested that as we still do not know what the exact effects of cannabis are, it is not worth the risk to use it during pregnancy.

The research team published the results of the study in the Journal of the American Medical Association. The journal featured a separate scientific work a team led by Daniel Corsi of the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute, in Canada on marijuana use among pregnant Canadian women.

Despite the limitations of the study admitted by the authors, the results suggested that pot use in pregnancy may lead to premature birth. The authors explicitly mentioned that their research could not confirm whether some external factors, such as concurrent drinking or tobacco smoking, could be at play.

The results of the studies come at times when numerous U.S. states are legalizing marijuana for medical or recreational use. Until now, cannabis is legal in 10 states nationwide for both purposes but remains illegal federally.

According to Dr. Volkow, the U.S. government should review its restrictions on marijuana research as the current policies have severely impacted the researchers' attempts to answer fundamental questions on pot use.

What do you think? Do you support or oppose the statement of Dr. Volkow that the U.S. government should reconsider the restrictions on marijuana research?