More Women Using Marijuana During Pregnancy

More Women Using Marijuana During Pregnancy (WICS)

More women in the United States are using marijuana during their pregnancies.

Between 2-5% of expectant mothers have reported using marijuana while pregnant, according to a new study done by Columbia University.

A local physician says hospitals right here in Central and Southern Illinois have seen a definite increase in marijuana use among pregnant women.

Dr. Robert Abrams is the Director of Obstetrics at HSHS St. John's Hospital in Springfield. He said, "I would say at least 10% of the patients, when you specifically ask them, they've used marijuana at some point during the pregnancy."

Dr. Abrams says more women are using marijuana while pregnant, and they have no problem admitting it. "They'll tell me, 'Yeah, I smoke a joint a day and it helps with my appetite and it helps me gain weight." He says marijuana use during pregnancy can increase the risk of a child being stillborn or born with problems ranging from ADHD to autism.

"Now, there's excellent evidence that marijuana use during pregnancy can lead to negative fetal brain development, which increases risk for behavioral problems," explained Dr. Abrams. He says even women who use marijuana for medical purposes should stop, if they get pregnant.

Right now, pregnancy is not a condition recognized by the State of Illinois for access to medical cannabis, but some say, it's helpful to those who don't have a picture-perfect pregnancy.

"Cannabis is a fantastic anti-emetic, and it helps our cancer patients from getting sick after chemotherapy," said Jay Cook, the Director of Education at the HCI Alternatives dispensary. "It can definitely help a pregnant woman help with morning sickness or any type of nausea that they have. Now, whether that's okay with them and their physician? That's between the physician and the patient."

Employees at HCI Alternatives say if a pregnant patient came for medical marijuana, they would advise the woman on the safest ways to use it. "Instead of combusting it - taking a lighter and smoking cannabis - we would probably offer them the capsules that are available, or an edible, or some type of topical cream if they're going to use it for aches and pains as an anti-inflammatory," said Cook.

Doctors say you should not use marijuana if you're pregnant, and that using marijuana during pregnancy has its dangers just like cigarettes and alcohol do.

If you struggle with nausea, try taking vitamin B-6 or ginger. Otherwise, talk to your licensed physician for other medications or solutions.