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A new report examined the most recent trends for smoking and alcohol use during pregnancy. 

New federal data shows that while fewer women are taking in cigarettes and alcohol during pregnancy, more are using marijuana. A research letter published in JAMA Pediatrics examines the data, gathered between 2002 and 2016.

According to the data, the percentage of pregnant women who reported smoking cigarettes during pregnancy changed from 17.5% to around 10%. Alcohol use also fell from nearly 10% to close to 8.5%. While cannabis use among pregnant women is rare, the data shows it has increased from near 3% of pregnant women in the data collection, to almost 5%.

The National Survey of Drug Use and Health provided the data, which came from 12,000 pregnant women ages 18 to 44. Close to 3,500 of these women were in their first trimester of pregnancy, a critical time for fetal development in general but specifically and crucially, of brain and neurological function.

The CDC asks expectant mothers not to use the drug while pregnant, due to potential developmental harms for infants. While pot and cigarette smoke differ, they both are known to cause harm to the lungs, as reported in the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).

According to NIDA, “Marijuana smoking is associated with large airway inflammation, increased airway resistance, and lung hyperinflation, and those who smoke marijuana regularly report more symptoms of chronic bronchitis than those who do not smoke.”

The increase of pregnant women using cannabis may be due to new laws allowing medical marijuana use, which is now legal in nine states and on the agenda for approval in many more.

However, this viewpoint is not as of yet supported by data, and it is probable to think that the increasing amount of stress for the average American­­­—expensive health insurance, costs of organic food, and pricey rent/mortgage—has played a role in pregnant women turning to smoking pot for stress relief.

Overall, the percentage of smokers in the U.S. is at a new low, having dropped from 45.1 million cigarette smokers in 2005 to 36.5 million, close to 15% of the population, in 2015. The researchers did find that decreases in smoking were less pronounced among certain subgroups of pregnant women, including Black women, women ages 26 to 44, and those who did not finish high school.

This data supports the idea that increased stress and lack of access to proper care and living also increases the chances that a pregnant woman would smoke marijuana.

Alcohol use for the overall American population, including pregnant women, remains generally consistent. In other countries, especially European ones, drinking during pregnancy is acceptable in small doses, and even considered beneficial to the pregnancy.

The National Survey researchers were reported in Time as concluding, “Greater public awareness regarding the consequences of prenatal cannabis exposure in offspring health is necessary.”

View the original article at thefix.com

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