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More Women Are Using Pot During Pregnancy, Sparking Debate

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Pregnant women are strongly advised not to drink alcohol, smoke cigarettes, or use drugs to prevent putting their fetus at risk.

But what about marijuana? This plant is constituted as a drug, and often seen as dangerous, in many parts of the world, but not everyone is convinced.

While some countries, like Canada, are legalizing the recreational sale of cannabis, others are opposed to this leniency.

That being said, this isn't stopping thousands of pregnant women in the U.S. from using pot...

According to a recent study published in the journal of JAMA Internal Medicine, many women are turning to marijuana to deal with morning sickness.

The researchers found that in a study of approximately 220,000 pregnant women, 2.3% of women were diagnosed with severe morning sickness, 15.3% were diagnosed with mild morning sickness, and the rest did not report any symptoms.

Out of these women who reported severe morning sickness, 11% of confessed they used marijuana.

Approximately 9% pregnant women who reported mild symptoms of morning sickness said they used the drug. Meanwhile, only 4.5% of women with no reported symptoms said they used pot.

"We hope our study can help alert clinicians to the fact that women with nausea and vomiting in pregnancy are more likely to use marijuana," said senior study author Dr. Nancy Goler, an obstetrician/gynecologist at Kaiser Permanente in northern California.

"Pregnant women need to be screened and given the information about the possible negative effects while also receiving medically recommended treatment options."

These women are not only using pot for morning sickness, but also for anxiety.

Doctors are cautioning users that the health effects of marijuana on a fetus are still unknown.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), "mothers may put their babies at risk of health problems when they expose them to marijuana during pregnancy."

And the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends that "women who are pregnant or contemplating pregnancy should be encouraged to discontinue marijuana use" and "to discontinue use of marijuana for medicinal purposes in favor of an alternative therapy."

Alix Bacon, president of the Midwives Association in British Columbia, Canada, told Today's Parents that cannabis may have a negative impact on a child's brain.

“What we see is impulsivity, attention deficit and hyperactivity on the behavioral side of things, and then on the neurological side of things, we see impaired visual problem solving, so like trouble with a jigsaw puzzle would be an example."

Despite all these warnings, younger pregnant women are using pot to help cope with their pregnancy. Here are some of their experiences:

Parents on the popular website BabyCenter shared their experiences when a member asked how safe marijuana use is during pregnancy.

"I have four children and I am pregnant with number five. I smoke[d] marijuana with all four and they came full term, healthy and no medical conditions at all. I had to smoke because that was the only way I was able to keep any food or liquids down. I smoke maybe two blunts a day with each child ... My two sons, are seven and six and they are on the same track as the first two girls. Use marijuana at your own discretion. If it brings your appetite then by all means SMOKE."

Another user also said she reaped the benefits of smoking "limited amounts of pot" during her pregnancy.

"I smoked a limited amount of pot during my pregnancy with my son ... He's brilliant and in the 97th percentile. He was a very easy baby and slept good and had no disciplinary issues. He hardly ever cried and just got his first sickness at 2 1/2 years old. Smoking pot during pregnancy and while breastfeeding doesn't harm your baby if it's done in moderation. He made it to full term and was born 3 days before his expected date. No birth complications whatsoever and a few hour long labor from the first contraction to the delivery. It's all about moderation. Pharmaceuticals are worse."

But not everyone is on board.

One woman shared a story about her friend's experience smoking pot, and the end result was nearly tragic.

"I had a friend who smoked weed with her baby girl when she was pregnant and her baby came out premature and very close to death and was on a breathing machine for almost two months."

Another commented, "It's not a crime but it's just really screwed up that some women could be so selfish to want to even consider smoking weed while being pregnant."

What's your take on this debate? Do you know anyone who smoked pot while pregnant?

[H/T: Live Science]

Moojan has been a writer at Shared for almost a year. When she's not on the lookout for viral content, she's looking at cute animal photos. Reach her at moojan@shared.com.