A growing number of pregnant women are using marijuana, and the habit is expanding fastest among teens and young adults, a US study suggests.
What's more, rates of pot use in pregnancy have steadily risen over the years - from 4.2 percent of women in 2009 to 7.1 percent just seven years later. Over that same period, the proportion of pregnant women aged 18 to 24 using marijuana rose from 10 percent to 19 percent.
On the survey, which the women completed early in their pregnancy, were questions about marijuana use.
Media reports noted that the time span of the study coincides with increased marijuana legalization in California, and the US, and may be indicative of a continuing trend, as recreational legalization in California is scheduled to take effect on January 1. Numerous chemicals in marijuana, like tetrahydrocannabinol, known as THC, could pass through a mother's system to her baby.
The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends that women who are pregnant, planning to become pregnant, or are breastfeeding should avoid the drug because the effects of marijuana on unborn and newborn children are not well known.
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According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, more pregnant women in the Golden State are smoking pot than ever.
Whatever the reasons, the findings could be bad news for babies, since "initial evidence suggests that prenatal marijuana may impair fetal growth and neurodevelopment", Young-Wolff's group said.
Worryingly, if women are not reporting their marijuana use in their medical records, their doctors are unable to counsel them about the risks of using marijuana, or what alternative reliefs for symptoms like nausea might be available.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the health effects of marijuana on a fetus could include low birth weight and developmental problems, according to CNN. Last year, 5.1 percent of women between the ages of 25 and 34 years old reported to using marijuana while pregnant, up from 3.4 percent in 2009. The potency of the pot can also affect the results. Anecdotally, Young-Wolff said, some women may take marijuana while they're pregnant to deal with morning sickness.