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Member Research and Reports

Member Research and Reports

Colorado Study Shows Prenatal Cannabis Use Associated with Low Birth Weights

With marijuana use during pregnancy on the rise, a new study led by the Colorado School of Public Health: University of Colorado shows that prenatal cannabis use was associated with a 50 percent increased likelihood of low birth weight, setting the stage for serious future health problems including infection and time spent in Neonatal Intensive Care Units.

“Our findings underscore the importance of screening for cannabis use during prenatal care and the need for provider counselling about the adverse health consequences of continued use during pregnancy,” said the study’s lead author Dr. Tessa Crume, assistant professor of epidemiology at the Colorado SPH at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus.

The study was published last month in The Journal of Pediatrics​.

[Photo: Doctor examining a pregnant woman]

Dr. Crume and her colleagues utilized survey data from 3,207 women who participated in the Colorado Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System in 2014 and 15. They found the prevalence of marijuana use in the state of Colorado was 5.7 percent during pregnancy and 5 percent among women who were breastfeeding.

They also discovered that prenatal marijuana use was associated with a 50 percent increased chance of low birth weight regardless of tobacco use during pregnancy. Prenatal marijuana use was three to four times higher among women who were younger, less educated, received Medicaid or WIC, were white, unmarried and lived in poverty.

Dr. Crume said the numbers are surprising but also reflect changing attitudes toward marijuana, especially in a state like Colorado where it is legal.

“There is increased availability, increased potency and a vocal pro-cannabis advocacy movement that may be creating a perception that marijuana is safe to use during pregnancy,” Dr. Crume said.​

Read the entire story in the ColoradoSPH Newsroom.