Cannabis use among perinatal women is on the rise

16th November 2021

Researchers claim that perinatal women are using more cannabis as a solution to a lack of counselling from professional healthcare workers.

A study published in “The American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse” found that cannabis use during pregnancy has become significantly more frequent over a 15-year span.

It is reported that the numbers of past-month cannabis use have doubled from 3.4% to 7.0% and daily/near-daily use tripled from 0.9% to 3.4% in pregnant individuals from 2002–2017.

Shockingly, Open Access Government reports that perinatal mental illness affects up to every one in five new and expectant mums. Perinatal women who report using cannabis report doing so to relieve nausea, anxiety, pain and stress.

In the US, where a growing number of states are legalising the recreational use of cannabis, perinatal women are more likely to speak to ‘budtenders’ (cannabis retail workers) than healthcare professionals about their cannabis use.

While it could be argued that cannabis dispensary employees are not a reliable source of information on this serious topic, the study leader Calestina Barbosa-Leiker believes that budtenders should be part of the conversation.

Celestina Barbosa-Leiker, the vice-chancellor for research at Washington State University Health Sciences, said: “We need to use all approaches and all people in the patient’s life to help them, there is such limited research with budtenders, but they need to be part of this conversation because they are seen as trusted sources by their customers and our patients.

“We need to engage with them because that’s where the information is being disseminated.

“With that additional training, I think those conversations can happen in a more non-judgmental way, in a harm-reduction way, and hopefully trust will be built.”

More studies are concentrating on the impact cannabis could have on pregnant women than before.

A few weeks ago, Canex reported on another study that found that breast milk that is contaminated with THC may not harm or endanger early premature infants.

Researchers compared early pre-term infants who were fed breast milk from THC-positive mothers with those who were fed either formula or breast milk from THC-negative mothers.

The results were telling, maybe surprising for some: they found no differences in short-term health impacts such as breathing difficulties, lung development, and feeding issues.

Natalie L. Davis, MD, MMSc, author and Associate Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Maryland School of Medicine and Attending Neonatologist at the University of Maryland Children’s Hospital, said: “Providing breast milk from THC-positive women to preterm infants remains controversial since long-term effects of this exposure are unknown.

“For this reason, we continue to strongly recommend that women avoid marijuana use while pregnant and while nursing their babies. Our study, however, did provide some reassuring news in terms of short-term health effects.

“It definitely indicates that more research is needed in this area to help provide women and doctors with further guidance.”

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