Cannabis use trends among pregnant women

August 16, 2019
Ben Schwartz
Ben Schwartz

Ben Schwartz is Associate Editor, Contemporary OB/GYN.

As cannabis use has risen in pregnant women due to increased general acceptance and accessibility of the drug, a need for research on cannabis consumption habits in this population has emerged.

As cannabis use has risen in pregnant women due to increased general acceptance and accessibility of the drug, a need for research on cannabis consumption habits in this population has emerged. A recent study in JAMA Network Open explored trends in frequency of self-reported cannabis use among pregnant women in the year before and during pregnancy.

The cross-sectional study used data from 367,403 pregnancies among 276,991 women in Kaiser Permanente Northern California. Participants were at least 11 years old and completed a self-administered questionnaire on cannabis use during standard prenatal care between January 1, 2009 to December 31, 2017. 

Among the overall sample, 35.9% self-reported white race/ethnicity, 28.0% reported Hispanic, 16.6% Asian, 6.0% African American, and 13.5% reported other. Of the women, 1.2% were aged 11 to 17 years, 15.3% were 18 to 24 years, 61.4% were 25 to 34 years, and 22.0% were older than 34 years.

From 2009 to 2017, the adjusted prevalence of cannabis use in the year before pregnancy nearly doubled from 6.80% (95% CI, 6.42%-7.18%) to 12.50% (95% CI, 12.01%-12.99%). The adjusted prevalence of cannabis use during pregnancy also increased, rising from 1.95 (95% CI, 1.78%-2.13%) to 3.38% (95% CI, 1.103-1.128) during the same time period. 

The reported frequency of use from daily, weekly to monthly also significantly increased between 2009 and 2017 in the year before pregnancy, with daily use increasing most rapidly from 1.17% to 3.0%.

Self-reported daily, weekly, and monthly cannabis use during pregnancy also increased significantly over the same time period, with daily use increasing most rapidly from 0.28% in 2009 to 0.69% in 2017.

The authors believe the results of their study further illustrate how more women are using cannabis before and during pregnancy, following similar trends among the general population. Ob/gyns should recognize this and discuss the negative health outcomes that cannabis may have during pregnancy with their patients.