Not surprisingly, there was quite a strong response to my previous blog about marijuana use in pregnancy, in which I discussed the long term deficits in executive functioning in children and adolescents prenatally exposed to marijuana. I received many supportive comments, but there were several replies that were downright venomous and some a tad threatening! Makes one wonder what the writers were smoking when they responded to the column. In any case, I stand by my previous statement.
And now, a brand new study has come out of NIH, published in Obstetrics and Gynecology, documenting that marijuana use in pregnancy places a pregnancy at two times increased risk for stillbirth: death of the fetus at or after 20 weeks gestation. This was a huge study across 59 hospitals nationwide. All women in the study had a blood test for cotinine—a breakdown product of nicotine—and the fetal umbilical cords were tested for several types of drugs, including cocaine, methamphetamine, prescription painkillers, and marijuana. The women also answered a survey regarding their drug use patterns during pregnancy. Based on all these data, women who smoked marijuana were 2.3 times more likely to have a stillbirth than women who did not smoke marijuana during pregnancy. Why is this important? Because the United States has one of the highest stillbirth rates (6 per 1,000 births) among developed nations of the world, affecting 26,000 newborns in this country each year.