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Researchers seek answers for pregnant patients about cannabis

In podcast, Kaiser Permanente investigators discuss misconceptions about health risks


Kaiser Permanente researcher Kelly Young-Wolff, PhD, MPH, has watched the rate of cannabis use among pregnant patients steadily rise over the past several years. During the first 9 months of the pandemic, it took a sudden jump, from 6.75% to 8.14% of pregnant patients testing positive during a prenatal visit with Kaiser Permanente Northern California.


The rise in cannabis use may be related to the stress of the pandemic. Young-Wolff’s recent study with research partner Lyndsay Avalos, PhD, MPH, found use was higher among pregnant patients with depression, anxiety, and exposure to trauma.

“It’s very possible that more pregnant patients are using cannabis in an attempt to self-medicate these issues during the pandemic,” said Young-Wolff, who is a clinical psychologist and research scientist with the Kaiser Permanente Division of Research.

That’s concerning, as doctors advise against the use of cannabis during pregnancy. Young-Wolff and Avalos have received significant federal funding to pursue research on possible health effects of cannabis on mothers and babies.

In a new KP Research Radio podcast, the pair discuss common misconceptions about prenatal cannabis use, their future research plans, and more.


Read previous Research Spotlight coverage of prenatal cannabis research:

Cannabis use by pregnant women increased during pandemic

Pregnant women who use cannabis more likely to live near a cannabis retailer

Depression, anxiety, trauma associated with elevated odds of cannabis use during pregnancy


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