(HealthDay News) — Prenatal marijuana use increased from 2009–2016 for pregnant women of all ages, according to a research letter published in the Dec. 26 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Kelly C. Young-Wolff, PhD, MPH, from Kaiser Permanente Northern California in Oakland, and colleagues examined trends of prenatal marijuana use from 2009–2016 among pregnant females aged ≥12 years in the Kaiser Permanente Northern California health care system. The adjusted prevalence of prenatal marijuana use was estimated via self-report or toxicology annually. Data were included for 279,457 females. 

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The researchers found that the adjusted prevalence of prenatal marijuana use increased from 4.2 to 7.1% from 2009–2016; prevalence was higher based on toxicology than self-report. For each age group there was a significant increase in adjusted prevalence from 2009–2016: from 12.5 to 21.8% for those aged <18 years; from 9.8 to 19% for those aged 18–24 years; from 3.4 to 5.1% among women aged 25–34 years; and from 2.1 to 3.3% for women aged >34 years. Prenatal use increased at annual relative rates of 1.088, 1.092, 1.08, and 1.057, respectively.

“Of concern, 22% of pregnant females younger than 18 years and 19% of pregnant females aged 18 to 24 years screened positive for marijuana use in 2016,” the authors write.

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