(NBC News) — Women who use marijuana during pregnancy are putting their babies at risk, a study published Thursday finds.
Babies born to women who were heavy cannabis users during pregnancy are more likely to have health problems, including premature birth and death within a year of birth, compared to babies born to women who did not use cannabis during pregnancy, according to an analysis of nearly 5 million California women who gave birth between 2001 and 2012.
The report in the journal Addiction is more evidence of the risks of marijuana use during pregnancy. As more states legalize adult use of recreational marijuana, researchers have been trying to determine whether the drug might have deleterious effects on fetuses. A study published in August linked pot use among pregnant women with an elevated risk of autism in their babies.
“Because many states in the U.S. now have approved medical and/or recreational cannabis, we recommend regulatory approaches targeting pregnant women, such as developing guidelines for physicians to appropriately recommend medical cannabis and communicating potential risks of prenatal cannabis use,” said the study’s lead author, Yuyan Shi, an associate professor of health policy and health economics at the Herbert Wertheim School of Public Health and Human Longevity Science at the University of California, San Diego.