It's unclear why more women are choosing to use marijuana during pregnancy, a question this study didn't seek to address. The percentage of women who revealed that they used marijuana in pregnancy, and those who had positive urine tests has increased, which means that in general, the non-pregnant population could be using it, meaning that using marijuana has became more normal, at least in California.
Many women may not understand the potential risk, however.
California legalized medicinal marijuana in 1996 and expanded its legalization this year, with the passage of Proposition 64.
One expert speculates the rise might be partially explained by the increased availabiility of legal marijuana in recent years. Women typically completed questionnaires asking about drug use when they were around eight weeks pregnant and then got lab tests during the same checkup or within the next two to four weeks. "Why use something that could potentially cause problems?" Given the fact that marijuana has the potential to have a negative impact a baby's developing brain, ACOG recommends that doctors caution women against using marijuana while trying to conceive, during pregnancy and while breastfeeding. A 2013 study published in Obstetrical & Gynecological Survey researched the effects of marijuana use on lactation, under the guise that marijuana will soon become more widely available in the US, and didn't find conclusive evidence to support treating marijuana and tobacco use the same way. "The effects of marijuana use may be as serious as those of cigarette smoking and alcohol consumption".
Research shows that marijuana use during pregnancy may be linked to future developmental and hyperactivity disorders in children.
"I look at them and say not a smart move, don't do it", she said.
According to Dr. Navizadeh, it is hard to determine the exact effects of marijuana use on babies and fetuses because, oftentimes, expectant mothers who are using marijuana may also be using other drugs. "They hear medical marijuana and think it's safe, but there are a lot of medications that aren't safe during pregnancy". This could create compounding factors in medical studies' results.
One of the most perplexing foundings that researchers from the The Kaiser Permanente school of medicine is the stat showing how many women admitted to cannabis use, when compared to the number of those that tested positive. They reach for ginger ale, crackers and sea sickness bands to help with morning sickness.