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Why do people use cannabis during pregnancy

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A new, small-scale study has found that pregnant and breastfeeding women are using cannabis more frequently to deal with pregnancy-related symptoms and pre-existing health conditions, including nausea, vomiting, mental health problems and insomnia, among others.

Although there is no evidence for the spread of cannabis and its effects on offspring, the research, Published Monday in the Canadian Medical Association (CMAJ) Journal.Reports indicate that cannabis use during pregnancy and lactation is increasing.

However, the study found that the reasons why more pregnant women turn to cannabis do not have a “significant resonance” with those of recreational cannabis users.

“The reasons for use given by participants closely match those identified in studies of medical cannabis use, such as pain control, anxiety, depression, muscle spasms, nausea, appetite and sleep, with many using cannabis to manage multiple symptoms,” the study authors wrote.

The study found that this group also reported using cannabis to improve mood, mental, physical and spiritual well-being and manage stress during some stages of pregnancy.

The study looked at 52 Canadians, 51 of whom were identified as women and one identified as non-binary.

Participants were at least 19 years old, had been pregnant or breast-feeding in the past year, and had used cannabis during this period or in the three months preceding pregnancy.

Data were collected via telephone or video call interviews between November 2020 and March 2021. At the time of these interviews, 30 of the participants were pregnant and the remaining 22 were lactating.

According to the study, researchers were able to identify three categories of reasons why people use cannabis during pregnancy and lactation: sensation seeking pleasure and pleasure; symptom management of chronic conditions and conditions related to pregnancy; and dealing with “unpleasant, but unsatisfactory life experiences.”

The reasons given by participants for using cannabis during pregnancy have changed.

Prior to pregnancy, the study found that participants reported cannabis use in these three categories in similar proportions, with many providing multiple reasons for use.

Upon learning that they were pregnant, some of these individuals reported quitting cannabis “for fear of harming the fetus” while others stopped due to social stigma, guilt, and health reasons.

However, those who continued to use cannabis during pregnancy reported that they were doing so primarily to control pregnancy symptoms, including nausea, vomiting, and pain.

After childbirth and during lactation, the reasons for using cannabis changed again and reverted to similar to those expressed before pregnancy, according to the study.

While the researchers say their sample was “diverse in age, geography, education and occupation,” they acknowledged that it was similar to other studies on medical cannabis where participants were more likely to be white or indigenous.

The researchers note that the findings may have “limited portability” to pregnant and lactating women of other ethnic identities because of this.

According to the researchers, the study points to the need to advise pregnant and breastfeeding women about the potential harms of cannabis use, as well as alternative approaches to managing symptoms.

“The dynamic nature of the reasons for use across phases speaks to participants’ perception of benefits, risks, and possibly desire to use cannabis during pregnancy as a therapeutic treatment due to perceived stigma,” the study authors wrote.

It’s important for clinicians to understand why people use cannabis during pregnancy, Dr. Meredith Vanstone, lead author and associate professor at McMaster University, said in a press release.

“There is an opportunity here to explore the benefits that pregnant women get from cannabis and help them find alternatives that we know are safe for both mother and baby,” Vanstone said.

The study indicated that alternatives to cannabis can be both medical alternatives and treatment options.

Other studies suggested Babies who were exposed to cannabis while still in the womb showed higher levels of stress hormones, anxiety, aggression and hyperactivity. In addition, tests performed on the placenta indicate genetic changes associated with the immune function of mothers who use cannabis.

Another large study last year, led by researchers at the Ottawa Hospital, found evidence to suggest that children exposed during pregnancy had an increased risk of an autism diagnosis. The same research team had previously reported that it also increases the risk of preterm birth and is associated with low birth weight.

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