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Understanding Cannabis Use During Pregnancy: Prevalence, Motivations, and Healthcare Provider Communication

Vanessa Morales
University of Miami

Co-Authors: Cynthia N. Lebron1, Sarah E. Messiah2, Denise C. Vidot1
1University of Miami 2University of Texas

Pregnant women seek information and support on online forums, such as the message board, “GanjaMamas”. These discussions include topics like dosage, form of use, and effects on fetal health, indicating a potential lack of support from healthcare professionals. The aim of this study is to explore communication with healthcare providers, prevalence, and reasons for cannabis use among a sample of women who reported using cannabis during pregnancy.

An online survey was used to collect data on cannabis behaviors from currently or previously pregnant and breastfeeding women. Of the 189 women surveyed, three were excluded because they did not report using cannabis while pregnant, resulting in a final sample of 186 women. The survey collected information on demographics, cannabis use during pregnancy, and interactions with healthcare providers regarding cannabis use. Descriptive statistics were used to report the prevalence of cannabis use during pregnancy, reasons for use, and communication with healthcare providers.

Most participants identified as White (66.13%, n=123) and were born in the United States (86.02%, n=160), with an average age of 29.80 ± 5.69. The majority reported using cannabis for medical reasons (79.33%, n=142), the most common reasons being to relieve pain (31.68%, n=51), for fun/relaxation (32.30%, n=52), and to relieve stress/anxiety (17.39%, n=28). The most reported form of cannabis used was oil (e.g., a vape pen) (28.13%, n=45), followed by joints (20.63%, n=33), edibles (13.75%, n=22), and tinctures (13.75%, n=22). Half (55.10%; n=27) reported not discussing cannabis use with their healthcare provider, 20.41% (n=10) reported discussing cannabis use before getting pregnant, and 24.49% (n=12) reported discussing cannabis use after getting pregnant. Among women who discussed cannabis use with their healthcare provider, only 21.71% (n=38) reported discussing alternatives to cannabis use during pregnancy.

The high prevalence of cannabis use during pregnancy in this sample, coupled with the low percentage of women who discussed cannabis use with healthcare providers highlights the need for greater healthcare providers communication in a clinical setting for women who use cannabis during pregnancy. Clinical cannabis research is needed to better uncover the risks and benefits of cannabis use during pregnancy.

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