Marijuana use is on the rise among pregnant women — and experts are very concerned

SYDNEY, NSW - JUNE 07: A pregnant woman holds her stomach June 7, 2006 in Sydney, Australia. Australia is currently enjoying a baby boom, with the Australian Bureau of Statistics registering a 2.4% increase in births from 2004 to 2005, which represents the highest number of births since 1992. The Australian Federal Government has been encouraging people to have more babies, with financial incentives and the slogan by treasurer Peter Costello to "have one for mum, one for dad, and one for the country". The Federal Government has identified falling fertility rates and the ageing population as long-term problems for Australia's growth and prosperity. (Photo by Ian Waldie/Getty Images)

Researchers have observed a disturbing trend among pregnant women.

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The Sacramento Bee cited a new study from Kaiser Permanente analyzing rising rates of marijuana use among pregnant women. The study revealed that marijuana use among pregnant women increased from 4.2 percent in 2009 to 7.1 percent in 2016.

Usage has particularly increased in mothers 24 years of age and younger. A study found 19 percent of women ages 18 to 24 tested positive for marijuana. About 22 percent of teen mothers also tested positive for marijuana use at eight weeks of gestation.

Researchers believe factors like marijuana legalization and morning sickness have contributed to the trend.

Morning sickness affects a significant percentage of pregnant women. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) tweeted that the percent of pregnant women who experience nausea ranges between 50 percent and 80 percent, while approximately half experience retching.

“They hear a lot of misinformation,” explained Dr. Nancy Goler, the OBGYN who authored the study. “They hear medical marijuana and think it’s safe, but there are a lot of medications that aren’t safe during pregnancy.”

While the study has much to offer about the perceived reasons why marijuana use is on the rise, it has fewer answers about the effect that marijuana has on babies in the womb.

ACOG discourages any continued use for pregnant mothers, citing the lack of data on the effects:

Pregnant women or women contemplating pregnancy should be encouraged to discontinue use of marijuana for medicinal purposes in favor of an alternative therapy for which there are better pregnancy-specific safety data.

There are insufficient data to evaluate the effects of marijuana use on infants during lactation and breastfeeding, and in the absence of such data, marijuana use is discouraged.

(H/T Twitter)

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