Family & Parenting

Pregnant Women Are Smoking More Blunts And Fewer Cigarettes

Women are smoking differently than they did ten years ago. A new study published by the American Public Health Association compared data on pregnant and nonpregnant women’s smoking habits in 2006 and 2016. They found that overall, women are smoking fewer cigarettes but more blunts than ever before. A decrease in cigarette smoking is good for children’s health. However, we still don’t understand the effect THC has on a developing brain.

From Cigarettes To Blunts

The study looked at 162,451 non-pregnant women and 8,695 pregnant women in total. All the women were of reproductive age, meaning between the ages of 18 and 44. Specifically, researchers from the University of Maryland School of Medicine charted whether women smoked cigarettes, blunts or cigars over the past month.

The study shows that more nonpregnant women smoke than pregnant women. And overall, fewer women were smoking cigarettes in 2016 than in 2006. Specifically, the study found that 15 percent of pregnant women had smoked cigarettes over the course of a month. But only 1 percent reportedly smoked cigars and 2 percent smoked blunts. A blunt is similar to a joint, except it’s rolled in a cigar or cigarillo paper, which is usually brown. Unlike a joint, the paper used to roll a blunt contains tobacco.

Overall, however, the study’s findings were optimistic when it came to pregnancy and smoking. In 2006, pregnant women were 18 percent likely to smoke. Comparatively, by 2016, only 10 percent smoked.

On the other hand, the study did find one area where smoking increased for both groups: By 2016, pregnant women were 2.5 percent likely to smoke blunts. This compares to under 1 percent in 2006. A noticeable increase like this suggests that public perception is shifting for weed and cigarettes.

The lead researcher on the study, Victoria Coleman-Cowger, told Reuters, “It is promising to see less cigarette use during pregnancy because we know that it will positively impact public health. However, this decline could mean pregnant women are turning to alternative tobacco products or marijuana due to perceptions of lower risk.”

Weed Is Not Necessarily Safe For Pregnant Women

When it comes to pregnancy and smoking blunts, more women than ever are making the dangerous assumption that a fetus can safely ingest THC, a psychoactive component in cannabis, i.e. the compound that gets you high. Additionally, the paper used to roll a blunt contains tobacco, which is not good for a fetus.

When considering THC’s effect on development, journalists often cite one 1991 study that took place in Jamaica. It shows no developmental difference between the children of women who smoked weed while pregnant and those who didn’t. However, it is dangerous to make decisions based on one study—especially when it’s decades old and takes only 59 children into account. Plus, research suggests that THC’s effect on a fetus’ development is not positive.

Another study illustrates that THC can impede the formation of neuronal networks in a baby’s brain. It can also lower a baby’s weight, according to some medical experts, which can lead to other health problems. Considering that pregnant women should not ingest caffeine, undercooked foods, most fish and, of course, alcohol, you’re better off staying away from cannabis containing THC.

This does not necessarily mean that you cannot use CBD, a non-psychoactive cannabinoid. CBD is increasingly popular for aches and pains, nausea and as a stress reliever—all of which affect pregnant women. However, you have to make your own educated choice when it comes to using cannabinoids while pregnant, psychoactive or not.

This latest research showing that blunt use is rising, albeit slightly, shows an alarming change in perception. While most women know that pregnancy and cigarettes do not mix, fewer see that smoking blunts can pose a health risk.

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