Information Lacking on Effect of Prenatal Use of Marijuana

Large retrospective, prospective trials are needed to understand effects of prenatal exposure

(HealthDay News) — More information is needed on marijuana use in pregnancy, according to an Ideas and Opinions piece published online Aug. 21 in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Nancy Goler, M.D., from Kaiser Permanente Northern California in Oakland, and colleagues address the lack of information on the specific effects of marijuana use during pregnancy on mothers and offspring.

The researchers note that based on new data from pregnant patients who were universally screened for any prenatal substance use from 2009 to 2016, more than one-third of women who had a screening result positive for marijuana use also had a positive result for at least one other substance. There is an urgent need to understand the effects of prenatal marijuana exposure, which may continue to increase with growing acceptance, accessibility, and the spread of legalization. Well-designed retrospective and prospective cohort studies are needed in large, representative populations, which use validated measures of marijuana exposure and adjust for other substance use. Although it is recommended that clinicians screen for and advise against marijuana use in pregnancy, pregnant women lack information about the harms of prenatal use and want better information.

“We believe it is critical that research on prenatal marijuana use and its effects on health not be exploited to penalize or stigmatize women, but instead be used to empower them to make informed decisions about marijuana use during pregnancy,” the authors write.

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