A study by researchers from the Herbert Wertheim School of Public Health and Longevity Research at the University of California at San Diego of nearly 5 million live births in California reports that babies born to mothers diagnosed with cannabis use disorder are more likely to have negative results had health consequences. such as premature birth and low birth weight, as babies of mothers with no diagnosis of cannabis use.
The results will be published online in the April 22, 2021 issue of Addiction magazine. The National Institute on Drug Abuse, part of the National Institutes of Health, funded the study.
Cannabis use disorder is a diagnostic term with specific criteria that defines continued cannabis use despite the resulting clinically significant impairments. The research team, led by lead author Yuyan Shi, PhD, associate professor at the Herbert Wertheim School of Public Health, conducted a retrospective cohort study of 4.83 million mothers who gave birth to single births in California from 2001 to 2012.
They identified 20,237 women who were discharged after childbirth with a diagnosis of cannabis use disorder. Not all people who use cannabis meet the criteria for a cannabis use disorder. The study’s authors said the actual incidence of cannabis use disorders is likely to be higher than the numbers reported.
The researchers found that the diagnosis of cannabis use disorder, based on medical records at the time of delivery, increased from 2.8 to 6.9 per 1,000 deliveries between 2002 and 2012. Compared to a matching control group of 40,474 mother-child pairs, infants born to women with cannabis use disorder were more likely to be born prematurely, have a low birth weight, and were short for their gestational age -; All factors that require more or more intensive medical care or that can predict future health problems.
In addition, the researchers found that infant mortality risk was greater in infants of women with cannabis use disorder, although overall it was rare (less than 1 percent). These infants were 35 percent more likely to die within one year of birth than infants in the control group. Conversely, it was also less likely that these infants were admitted to hospital within the first year of life than infants in the control group.
Since we are only concerned with medical records, we don’t know much about the mothers and infants in this study, but our analysis supports the recommendation that health professionals look for and treat cannabis use disorders in pregnant clients -; to protect both their health and possibly the health of their children. “
Yuyan Shi, first author
Currently, screening for cannabis use or related disorders is not a standard practice during pregnancy health care, although marijuana is the illegal drug most commonly used by pregnant women, typically for the self-treatment of depression, anxiety, stress, pain, nausea, and vomiting, often during the first trimester. It is also not a standard of advice to provide advice on the lack of safety data on cannabis use during pregnancy. Both strategies can be helpful and encourage patients to discontinue cannabis use during pregnancy and breastfeeding and, if necessary, refer them to treatment.
According to a study published in 2018, approximately 7 percent of pregnant women reported using marijuana, with the rate reaching up to 10 percent in women ages 18-25. The rate based on urine toxicology was even higher, with 19 percent of pregnant women between the ages of 18 and 25 screening positive for marijuana use.
Previous research has shown that tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive compound in cannabis, can reach fetuses and infants through the placenta or breast milk. THC disrupts the normal functioning of the endocannabinoid system, which has been shown to play a key role in pregnancy, including implanting the embryo in the uterus and maintaining the placenta.
University of California San Diego
Shi, Y. et al. (2021) The Relationships Between Prenatal Cannabis Use Disorder and Newborn Outcomes. Addiction. doi.org/10.1111/add.15467.