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Reasons for Cannabis Use During Pregnancy Varies by Ethnicity: Results from the COVID-19 Cannabis Mom Study

Justine Clement
University of Miami

Co-Authors: Bria-Necole Diggs1, Amrit Baral1, Cynthia Lebron1, Sarah E Messiah2, Denise C Vidot1
1University of Miami, 2University of Texas

Background: Cannabis use among pregnant and breastfeeding individuals has become a topic of increasing concern, particularly with the recent increases in acceptance and legalization. Understanding factors influencing cannabis use during breastfeeding is crucial for developing appropriate public health interventions and clinical guidelines. Thus, this study aimed to explore the reasons for cannabis use during breastfeeding across different race/ethnic groups, shedding light on potential disparities to inform culturally competent guidance.

Methods: Cross-sectional data from the COVID-19 Cannabis Mom Study (N=221) was analyzed. Informed consent and data collection were conducted anonymously via a REDCap electronic survey link. Participants self-reported their cannabis usage and reasons for use during pregnancy and breastfeeding. Ethnicity was categorized as Hispanic/Latino, Non-Hispanic White (NHW), and Non-Hispanic Other (NHO) -inclusive of African Americans/non-Hispanic Blacks, Asians, and Native American/Alaskan Natives, Pacific Islander due to smaller sample sizes. Chi-Square/Fisher’s Exact tests examined reasons for cannabis use by race/ethnic group.

Results: The overall sample (N=221) was 64.1% NHW, 16.6% Hispanic/Latino, and 65.4% currently pregnant (22.7% in the first trimester, 44.0% second trimester, and 33.3% third trimester). The majority (94.7%) reported consuming cannabis before being pregnant and 89.3% reported currently consuming cannabis while pregnant. There were no statistically significant differences by race/ethnicity in the proportions of those consuming cannabis during pregnancy to relieve nausea, stress, anxiety, pain, or for fun or to relax. There was a difference in reason for use by ethnicity in self-reported relief of vomiting (NHW: 59.2%, NHO: 46.6%, Hispanic/Latino: 28.6%; p=0.05) and to relieve symptoms of a chronic condition (NHW: 4.1%, NHO:13.3%, Hispanic/Latino: 28.5%; p=0.03).

Conclusions: Findings show that most pre-pregnancy cannabis users continue use during pregnancy, and reasons for use varies by race/ethnicity. More Hispanics/Latinos consume cannabis during pregnancy to relieve symptoms of a chronic condition versus NHW and NHO while NHO had a higher prevalence of cannabis use to relieve vomiting compared to Hispanics/Latinos. These findings underscore differential reasons for cannabis use during pregnancy by ethnicity as a premise for culturally inclusive public health education and harm-reduction interventions and pregnancy health provider education.