JUN 20, 2024 2:05 PM PDT

Cannabis Disorders in Pregnancy Rose 24% After Legalization

WRITTEN BY: Annie Lennon

The rate of cannabis-related disorders (CRD) among pregnant women in Quebec, Canada increased by 24% within three years of the legalization of non-medical cannabis use in October 2018. The corresponding study was published in Addiction.

“Cannabis use during pregnancy has been associated with elevated risk of preterm birth, neonatal intensive care unit admissions, low birth weight, and other negative outcomes, so the increase in CRD diagnoses after the Cannabis Act should trigger a robust public health response,” said lead author of the study, Professor José Ignacio Nazif-Munoz, of the Université de Sherbrooke, in a press release

“Our study highlights the importance of universal screening for CRDs. Additionally, pregnant women with a history of cannabis disorder may benefit from repeated screening and ad-hoc counseling during pregnancy,” he added. 

For the study, researchers analyzed health data from pregnant women aged 15- 49 years old gathered between 2010 and 2022 in Quebec, Canada. In particular, they examined rates of cannabis-related, all-drug, and alcohol-related disorders. 

Before October 2018, there were an average of 14.5 diagnoses of cannabis-related disorders per 100,000 pregnant women. After October 2018 however, the average number of CRD diagnoses increased to 23.5 per 100,000 pregnant women. No significant changes were observed for alcohol-related diagnosed disorders and all-drug (excluding cannabis) related disorders.

The researchers wrote that the findings may be partially explained by increased health service utilization by pregnant women leading to increased diagnosis as well as increased detection by physicians following cannabis legalization. 

They further noted that federal and provincial efforts to protect pregnant women should be encouraged. They wrote, for example, that given only around an eighth of cannabis packages feature explicit warnings against use during pregnancy or breastfeeding, additional research is needed to examine the impact of health warnings and to understand whether mandating pregnancy warnings on all packaging is necessary. 


Sources: EurekAlertAddiction

About the Author
Bachelor's (BA/BS/Other)
Annie Lennon is a writer whose work also appears in Medical News Today, Psych Central, Psychology Today, and other outlets.
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