More women are using cannabis to treat morning sickness

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Cannabis is touted for its ability to reduce nausea and vomiting so it’s not so surprising that women in the early stages of pregnancy would feel inclined to turn to cannabis to ease their morning sickness symptoms. In fact, researchers have pointed out in a study published this week that cannabis use among pregnant women is at an all-time high.

The study, published in the medical journal JAMA, found that women are most likely to use cannabis during the first trimester of their pregnancy and that the percent of pregnant women using cannabis increased from 3.4% in 2002 to 7% in 2017.

The researchers of the study analyzed data from participants of the National Survey on Drug Use and Health. They looked at results from 4,400 pregnant women and 133,900 nonpregnant women who had been asked about their current pregnancy status, past-month cannabis use, how many days cannabis had been used in the past month as well as daily use of cannabis.

The study found that women were using cannabis for both medical and nonmedical reasons, but also found increases during pregnancy:

  • Daily or near daily cannabis use increased from 0.9 percent to 3.4 percent
  • Daily or near daily cannabis use during the first trimester increased from 1.8 percent to 5.3 percent
  • Daily or near daily cannabis use during the second trimester increased from 0.6 percent to 2.5 percent
  • Daily or near daily cannabis use during the third trimester increased from 0.5 percent to 2.5 percent

One of the concerns brought to light by the study is that many of the women who were using cannabis during pregnancy did not have cannabis recommended to them by a physician.

“Although many states have approved cannabis for nausea/vomiting (including in pregnancy), the results suggest that clinicians might not recommend it during pregnancy,” the authors of the study wrote.

The effects of cannabis use during pregnancy have not yet been established which makes many doctors weary of recommending that patients continue consumption while pregnant or as an aid to relieve morning sickness.

“Cannabis use during pregnancy has been associated with effects on fetal growth, including low birth weight and length, and these outcomes may be more likely among women who consume marijuana frequently during pregnancy, especially in the first and second trimesters,” the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) said in a press release. “This study emphasizes the need to screen and intervene for cannabis use among all pregnant women and underscores the need for additional research to assess fetal outcomes related to prenatal cannabis exposure.”

Dr. Nora Volkow, the lead author of study and Director of NIDA said “because we don’t know exactly how harmful it is, it’s better to err on the side of caution,” and that “it’s not worth the risk”.

It’s always recommended that women consult their physician on using any kind of cannabis product, or any other medication and substances while pregnant or if they are planning to become pregnant.

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