Study: Legalization Associated with Increased Cannabis Use During Pregnancy, No Significant Differences in Neonatal Outcomes

Los Angeles, CA: The enactment of adult-use legalization in California is associated with greater incidences of marijuana use by pregnant women, but no significant changes in neonatal outcomes, according to data published in The Journal of Maternal-Fetal & Neonatal Medicine.

A team of investigators affiliated with the University of California, Los Angeles assessed rates of marijuana positives among a cohort of pregnant women before and one-year following the enactment of adult-use marijuana legalization.

Researchers reported that the rate of initial marijuana use during pregnancy increased in the first twelve months after legalization. Compared to non-users, those testing positive for cannabis were more likely to be younger, suffer from depression, and to consume other controlled substances. Most subjects who tested positive for cannabis ceased their use over the course of their pregnancy, and “the majority of users had negative UDT (urine drug test) at the time of delivery.”

Investigators also assessed birth outcomes between those who ever tested positive for cannabis and those who tested negative. Authors reported no significant differences in either birth weight or rates of pre-term delivery among the two groups after controlling for potential confounders. Babies born to mothers with past cannabis exposure were also no more likely to have low Apgar scores or require intensive medical care. “Overall, neonatal outcomes were similar between both groups,” authors concluded.

Full text of the study, “The impact of state legalization on rates of marijuana use in pregnancy in a universal drug screening population,” appears in The Journal of Maternal-Fetal & Neonatal Medicine. Additional information is available in the NORML fact-sheet, “Maternal Marijuana Use and Childhood Outcomes.”