Pregnant and postpartum women vulnerable to cannabis use disorder

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In a recent study, mental health disorders were associated with increased risks of cannabis use and cannabis use disorder among women who were pregnant or up to 1 year postpartum.

Pregnant and postpartum women vulnerable to cannabis use disorder | Image Credit: © Iarygin Andrii - © Iarygin Andrii - stock.adobe.com.

Pregnant and postpartum women vulnerable to cannabis use disorder | Image Credit: © Iarygin Andrii - © Iarygin Andrii - stock.adobe.com.

According to a recent study published in Drug and Alcohol Dependence, women are vulnerable to mental health disorders, cannabis use, and cannabis use disorder (CUD) during pregnancy and up to 1 year postpartum.

Cannabis use during pregnancy and postpartum is associated with risks to maternal and child health, leading groups such as the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American Academy of Pediatrics to recommend against use during this period. However, a 110% increase in cannabis use among pregnant women in the United States was seen from 2002 to 2016.

Significant increases in rates of CUD have also been observed, with an over 5-fold rise from 1993 to 2014. One study found CUD in 18.1% of pregnant women, compared to 11.4% of nonpregnant reproductive-aged women. Cannabis may be used for stress relief or management of mental health symptoms, but it is unclear how mental health is associated with CUD.

Investigators conducted a study to determine the association between mental health disorders, cannabis use, and CUD among US women from pregnancy up to 1 year postpartum. Associations between past-year cannabis use, CUD, and mental health disorders were determined using the 2012–2013 National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions–III.

Participants aged 18 years or older living in households and certain noninstitutionalized group quarters were included in a nationally representative, cross-sectional, face-to-face survey. There were 36,309 individuals selected, 60.1% of which responded to the survey.

The final sample included 414 pregnant women and 902 postpartum women within a year of delivery. All participants were aged between 18 and 44 years. Among participants, past-year cannabis use was seen in 9.8% and CUD in 3.2%. 

Daily or near daily cannabis use was seen in 23% of women who used cannabis in the last year but did not have CUD, compared to 66% with CUD. Medical use of cannabis was reported by 12 women, 3 of whom only used cannabis medically and 9 of whom also used it non-medically.

Women with any mood, anxiety, posttraumatic stress, or lifetime personality disorder had increased adjusted odds ratios (aORs) for cannabis use than those without any of these disorders. The aORs for cannabis use with anxiety or personality disorders ranged from 1.95 to 6.00, while the aORs for CUD ranged from 2.36 to 11.60.

These results indicated vulnerability to mental health disorders, cannabis use, and CUD among women from pregnancy up to 1 year postpartum. Investigators concluded treatment and prevention are vital in these women.

Reference

Brown QL, Shmulewitz D, Sarvet AL, Young-Wolff KC, Howard T, Hasin DS.Cannabis use, cannabis use disorder and mental health disorders among pregnant and postpartum women in the US: A nationally representative study. Drug and Alcohol Dependence. 2023;248. doi:10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2023.109940

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