With cannabis becoming mainstream as both legitimate consumer goods and a mainstream medical treatment, people are turning to marijuana to treat various conditions, from pain to sinusitis.
But when it comes to people that are more likely to be risk-sensitive, like pregnant women who are using it to relieve unpleasant symptoms such as nausea, pain, and general morning sickness, more caution is needed.
To that end, a recently published research paper in The American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse revealed that pregnant women were roughly 4.6 times more likely to use cannabis in legalized areas than where only CBD is permitted. While the risks of cannabis use during the prenatal period are not entirely understood, previous research has shed light on a connection between cannabis use during pregnancy with autism, childhood psychosis, anxiety, aggression and hyperactivity in children.
To address the growing need for more research, a team of two experts is leading a new project poised to recruit roughly 200 women ages 21-40 to create and test media messages about marijuana risk in pregnancy, reported OSF HealthCare.
Two experts intend to ask participants to weigh on how believable and persuasive each message urging pregnant women to avoid cannabis use is.
William Bond, MD is a physician in the emergency department at OSF HealthCare Saint Francis Medical Center and director of simulation research at Jump Simulation. Erin Berenz, Ph.D., at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) on a Community Health Advocacy (CHA) grant is an associate professor in the UIC Department of Psychology.
“We need to come to the point that we realize that cannabis use is every bit as prevalent as alcohol and tobacco, and in fact, in some populations, may be more prevalent, so we need to have that conversation with our pregnant patients as early as possible in pregnancy, if not before pregnancy,” Bond said.
He also warned that older research is no longer valid due to higher THC concentrations in marijuana products that are currently available.
“Modern cannabis products have a much higher THC concentration than older products, so the old research may not be applicable,” Bond continued. “Also, there may be co-ingestions of tobacco, and so if someone has smoked tobacco, then that also has bad effects on the baby.”
Photo: Courtesy of Peter Pike by Pixabay and Dhemer Gonçalves by Pexels