Studies needed to determine the effects of marijuana use in pregnancy

Originally Published By 2 Minute Medicine®. Reused on MPR with permission.

1. Pregnant women who screened positive for marijuana often also tested positive for at least 1 other substance.

2. Adverse effects of marijuana use on prenatal outcomes remain unclear.

Evidence Rating Level: 2 (Good)

Study Rundown: Marijuana use continues to be growing in terms of acceptance and accessibility with its legalization in many states and other countries. As a result, it is increasingly important to examine the health effects of marijuana with its use becoming more common among patients. The authors of this study evaluated the relationship between marijuana and prenatal effects during pregnancy. The authors observed that further studies are required to determine the effects of marijuana use in pregnancy. The main study limitation was that more than a third of women included in the study who screened positive for marijuana use also had a positive result for another substance. This finding emphasized the importance of adjusting for other types of substance use.

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Click to read the study in Annals of Internal Medicine

 Relevant Reading: ACOG Committee Opinion: Marijuana Use During Pregnancy and Lactation

In-Depth [brief report]: The authors of this study presented new data from a cohort of pregnant patients in the Kaiser Permanente Northern California health system over the period of 2009 to 2016. These patients were universally screened for prenatal substances through a self-report, as well as a urine toxicology screen. A total of 15,182 women were included in the results. As highlighted, over one third of women who screened positive for marijuana use also screened positive for other concurrent substances. Among these concurrent substances, alcohol had the greatest prevalence among study participants, with a total of 20.7% of women screening positive for concurrent alcohol and marijuana use. Following alcohol was nicotine (17.4%) and opioid pain medication (7.0%). Approximately 65% of patients included in the study screened positive for marijuana only.

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