A recent study by Columbia University and Weill Cornell Medicine researchers found that cannabis use disorder (CUD) in prenatal hospitalizations increased 150 percent from 2010 to 2018. The study highlights the need for greater support for pregnant patients with comorbid behavioral and medical conditions. Pregnant patients with CUD demonstrated significantly higher levels of depression, anxiety, and nausea. As researcher Claudia Lugo-Candelas explained, “It’s a red flag that patients may not be getting the treatment they need.”
Cannabis use during pregnancy is controversial given the unknown fetal effects. Many medical professionals are hesitant to recommend cannabis use for pregnant patients based on research studies linking cannabis use to lower birth weights and delayed cognitive development. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommend that cannabis use should be avoided while pregnant. There is concern in the medical community about patient misconceptions about cannabis safety; some patients believe cannabis poses little or no harm to mother or child since it is a natural treatment. However, it is important that patients consider their individual medical history and pregnancy in order to determine the safest and most effective cannabinoids, consumption methods, and dosing plans for their health individual needs.
Health professionals also need to consider the reasons why pregnant women might use cannabis. Alleviating nausea, anxiety, and insomnia are some of the main reasons pregnant women use cannabis. Consumption patterns vary greatly; some women tend to use cannabis only when experiencing morning sickness whereas some consumed cannabis daily. A 2017 study found that 96% of these women use cannabis to reduce morning sickness, and 31% quit using it after the nausea subsided. 70% stopped cannabis use once they found out they were pregnant. More research on cannabis use by pregnant patients is needed so that women can make informed decisions about treating their pregnancy symptoms.