A recently published study, funded by the National Institutes of Health and featured in JAMA, adds to growing evidence that smoking cannabis during pregnancy may pose risks for both the pregnant person and their unborn child. Researchers from the University of Utah, analyzing data from 9,257 participants across the United States, found that individuals with detectable cannabis levels in their urine had a higher rate of pregnancy complications compared to those who did not use cannabis.
Out of the participants, 610 used cannabis during pregnancy, with 197 using it only in the first trimester and 413 continuing use beyond the first trimester. The study examined unhealthy pregnancy outcomes, including smaller-than-expected babies, preterm births, stillbirths, or abnormal blood pressure during pregnancy.
The results indicated a higher percentage of unhealthy pregnancy outcomes in the group that used cannabis during pregnancy. Over a quarter of those who used cannabis experienced complications, compared to about 17% in the larger group that did not use cannabis—a difference exceeding 50%.
The study also noted that individuals who used cannabis only during the first trimester had a slightly lower percentage of complications compared to those who continued use beyond the first trimester. The complication rate was approximately 24% in the first-trimester group and nearly 27% in the continued-use group.
Dr. Robert Silver, one of the study’s authors, emphasized, “Cannabis use is not safe. It increases the risk of pregnancy complications. If possible, you shouldn’t use cannabis during pregnancy.”
Despite the growing body of evidence, the study highlights that conflicting information may make it challenging for individuals to understand the true risks associated with cannabis use during pregnancy. Dr. Torri Metz, the lead author of the study, noted the abundance of information on social media and the internet, making it difficult for patients to assess what they should be concerned about. The study reinforces the importance of caution and raises awareness about the potential risks associated with cannabis use during pregnancy.