Among teen mothers under age 18, marijuana use during pregnancy surged from about 13 percent in 2009 to nearly 22 percent in 2016, researchers found.
"Marijuana is [one of] the most commonly used illicit drugs during pregnancy, and its use is increasing", the study says. Meanwhile the use of marijuana among pregnant women between the ages of 18 and 24 in California jumped from 9.8 percent to 19 percent.
Young-Wolff noted in her email that the study itself did not investigate reasons for the rise in marijuana use among pregnant women.
The Kaiser Permanente researchers analyzed medical records from more than 30,000 pregnant women in its insurance network in California.
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Not a lot of research has been done on how pot affects an unborn baby, but the Centers for Disease Control warns that pregnant women who light up risk having a child with a low birth weight and developmental issues.
Participating women were asked to answer a questionnaire and go through a drug test to see if they tested positive for marijuana use.
For other age groups, the researchers found that marijuana use rose from 3.4% to 5.1% among women 25 to 34 and from 2.1% to 3.3% among women older than 34.
Researchers looked at trends of prenatal cannabis use from 2009-2016 using data from a large California health-care system.
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In October, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), which discourages marijuana use among pregnant or breastfeeding women, said that prenatal marijuana use could cause harm to an infant's brain development and function.
The prevalence of marijuana use among KPNC patients who were pregnant increased from 4 per cent to 7 per cent over eight years.
Barbara Yankey, a researcher at Georgia State University, told Reuters marijuana use may be on the rise because of the recent legalization of its recreational use "has made people think of the drug as less risky, even during pregnancy". "So I think the idea that use is rising is just because of the greater legal exposure to marijuana that women have today versus 20 years ago".
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