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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

Columbia: Pregnant Women with Depression Are More Than Three Times More Likely to Use Cannabis than Those Without Depression

Cannabis use is much more common among pregnant women with depression and pregnant women with depression are more than three times more likely to use cannabis than those without depression, according to a new Columbia Mailman School study. This is the first study to examine this relationship among pregnant women in a nationally representative sample. Findings are in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence.

Data were drawn from the 2005–2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. Pregnant women were categorized as a current cannabis user if they responded having used marijuana at least once in the past 30 days.

“Our findings are timely given rapidly shifting perceptions about risks associated with cannabis use and legalization,” said Dr. Renee Goodwin in epidemiology at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health. “We found the prevalence of cannabis use was much higher among those with depression who perceived no risk (24 percent) relative to those who perceived moderate-great risk associated with use (5.5 percent).”

Among pregnant women without depression, those who perceived no risk had higher levels of use (16.5 percent) compared with those who perceived moderate-great risk (0.9 percent), though both these levels were substantially lower than among women with depression. Pregnant women with depression who perceived moderate-great risk associated with regular use were more than 6 times as likely to use cannabis than those without depression,” noted Dr. Goodwin.

Approximately one in four pregnant teens with depression also used cannabis in the past month.

“Education about risks of cannabis use during pregnancy for both mother and offspring, especially among women with prenatal depression, are needed as cannabis is rapidly being legalized across the U.S.,” suggested Dr. Goodwin.

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