Heavy Marijuana Use During Pregnancy Linked To Early Infant Death

The results of a massive study detailed the potential health risks associated with using marijuana during pregnancy. Researchers combed through the health records of five million California women who gave birth between 2001 and 2012 and found more than 20,000 women who "received a delivery discharge diagnosis of cannabis use disorder."

The study found that infants born to women who had a cannabis use disorder were more likely to be born prematurely or with a low birth rate. They also found that those infants "were 35% more likely to die within a year of birth than control group infants."

The researchers and said they need to conduct more detailed studies on the issues and cautioned women against using marijuana while pregnant.

"While we cannot establish that cannabis use caused negative outcomes in this study, these data reinforce the case for caution around using cannabis during pregnancy," National Institute on Drug Abuse Director Nora D. Volkow, M.D. said in a press release. "Careful analysis of data like these is one way we can responsibly study how cannabis use affects the developing child, all while a natural experiment is playing out across our country in places where cannabis is becoming widely available to pregnant consumers."

They also urged healthcare providers to screen pregnant women for cannabis use disorders as a growing number of states legalize recreational use of the drug.

"Because many states in the U.S. now have approved medical and/or recreational cannabis, we recommend regulatory approaches targeting pregnant women, such as developing guidelines for physicians to appropriately recommend medical cannabis and communicating potential risks of prenatal cannabis use," said the study's lead author, Yuyan Shi, an associate professor of health policy and health economics at the Herbert Wertheim School of Public Health and Human Longevity Science at the University of California, San Diego.

Photo: Getty Images