Marijuana is currently legal in several U.S. states with more considering legalization. Though little is known about how marijuana affects the developing fetus, a significant number of women use during pregnancy; in a companion study at our site, 9.4% of women tested positive for tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) at their first prenatal visit. We examine women's perceptions of benefits and consequences of use while pregnant.
Anonymous surveys were distributed at three University-based Obstetric clinics to pregnant patients. Surveys included questions about marijuana use and perceived benefits and consequences of use during pregnancy and breastfeeding.
102 surveys were completed; median age 30 (range 18–43 years), 63% White, 53% had a college or graduate degree. Many agreed that marijuana helps with stress (54%), anxiety (40%), headaches (48%), aches/pains (58%), and is healthier than cigarettes (41%). Less than half thought it could reach the baby through the placenta (49%) or expose the baby to chemicals (45%). Women were unsure if marijuana could alleviate morning sickness (60%), affect a baby's brain (50.5%) and development (46.5%), or if it had been proven to be dangerous to use in pregnancy (57%). Only half (55%) disagreed that marijuana was ok to use in pregnancy.
Women have mixed and uncertain beliefs about marijuana, especially in pregnancy. Respondents felt marijuana was useful for common ailments but were unsure of the consequences of use while pregnant. Clearly there is a need for continuing investigation into marijuana's effects in pregnancy and on fetal outcomes to provide accurate education to patients.