Recent research has shown that women have taken less alcohol and cigarettes during pregnancy in recent years, but have increasingly relocated to another vice – cannabis.

In a research letter published this week in JAMA Pediatrics (November 6), a group of physicians at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis found that between 2002 and 2016, the consumption of alcohol and cigarettes by pregnant women in the United States declined However cannabis use has dropped Rose.

Researchers used Substance Abuse and Mental Health's National Survey of Drug Use and Health to track changes in alcohol, cigarette and cannabis use during pregnancy between 2002 and 2016 among women aged 18 to 44 years , They found out In 2016, in a sample of nearly 13,000 women, 8.43% said they had drunk alcohol in the last 30 days, 10.34% said they smoked cigarettes, and 4.98% said they did To have consumed cannabis. In 2002, these shares were 9.59%, 17.5% and 2.85% respectively.

The SAMHSA surveys included data for women aged 15 to 18, but the researchers excluded this age category in their report because they wanted to focus on adult women.

The decline in alcohol and cigarettes during pregnancy is encouraging, but perhaps not surprising, as a comprehensive public health campaign is designed to educate women on the developmental risks of their use during pregnancy. When a pregnant woman drinks, the alcohol passes directly from the baby to the baby via the umbilical cord. High alcohol intake increases the risk of miscarriage or stillbirth, and may result in the baby developing a series of lifelong physical, behavioral, and intellectual impairments known as fetal alcohol spectrum disorders.

If a woman smokes cigarettes during pregnancy, she may also harm her baby. Cigarette smoking increases the risk of premature birth, certain birth defects such as cleft palate and child death. Smoking can also affect the placenta, the source of food and oxygen in the baby during pregnancy.

Cannabis has a reputation for being "more natural" or healthier than cigarettes or alcohol. Earlier this year, the American Academy of Pediatricians (AAP) expressed concerns about how little we know about the impact of cannabis use on pregnant women and their babies in response to their legalization in some US states and in Canada.

To this end, the AAP has published guidelines for cannabis use during pregnancy or breastfeeding. They claim that women who smoke cannabis during pregnancy are more likely to develop anemia, and that babies who are exposed to cannabis in the womb are underweight and need to be admitted to intensive care after delivery. However, as the AAP explains, studies measuring the effects of cannabis use on pregnancy are flawed. They usually rely on the self report so that women may be encouraged to underestimate their use. They are usually not adapted to other risk factors for lifestyle such as cigarettes or alcohol. For ethical reasons, it is not possible to conduct a randomized control study to answer these questions – a common obstacle in the study of pregnancy.

While little is known about the overall impact of cannabis use during pregnancy and lactation, the best available evidence suggests that prenatal exposure carries the risk of short- and long-term developmental and behavioral consequences for a baby. Therefore, the AAP advises all young women "that marijuana should not be used during pregnancy when they become pregnant."

Read more from our series on Rewiring Childhood, This coverage is part of a series supported by a scholarship from the Bernard van Leer Foundation. The views of the author are not necessarily those of the Bernard van Leer Foundation.


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