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More than 10% of pregnant women infected with HIV use marijuana – up from 7% in 2007, study finds 

Marijuana use among pregnant women who are infected with HIV has increased over the last decade, a new study suggests.

Researchers surveyed women with he condition, who were either expecting babies or had recently given birth, about their substance use.

They found that more than 10 percent of mothers-to-be with HIV reported using cannabis, up from seven percent who reported doing the same in 2007.  

The team, led by Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, says the findings suggest that future studies are needed to find our why rates of pot use in pregnant women have increased such more states legalizing recreational marijuana

A new study led by Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine looked at 2,310 women living with HIV who were either pregnant or had given birth less than a year ago from 2007 to 2019 (file image)

For the study, published in JAMA Network Open, the team gathered data from the Surveillance Monitoring for Antiretroviral Toxicities (SMARTT) study of the Pediatric HIV/AIDS Cohort Study, which is funded by the National Institutes of Health. 

Women with HIV who were either pregnant or had given birth less than a year ago were enrolled between January 1, 2007, and July 1, 2019/

In the US, more than 1.2 million people are infected with human immunodeficiency virus, or HIV, the virus that leads to the potentially deadly disease AIDS.

About 13 percent with HIV aren’t aware they have the virus.

Once a person contracts HIV, the virus sets about attacking and destroying immune cells that normally protect the body from infection.

It’s unknown how many American women with HIV give birth every year, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggests it’s less than 5,000.

The survey asked the women about their use of several substances including marijuana, alcohol, opioid and concomitant alcohol and marijuana.

Data were collected from 2,926 pregnancies from 2,310 women living with HIV.

Researchers found that, in 2019, 11.7 percent of pregnant women with HIV used marijuana.

That is an increase from the 7.1 percent who reported the same thing in 2007. 

However, alcohol and opioid use among pregnancy remained flat over the 12-year study period.

Additionally, marijuana use increased among post-partum women from 10.2 percent in 2007 to 23.7 percent in 2019.

Marijuana use is sometimes recommended among pregnant women to alleviate symptoms such as nausea.

However, several studies have suggest the pot use among pregnant women can be detrimental to health of babies.

One August 2020 study found women who use marijuana during pregnancy are nearly twice as likely to give birth to a child with autism. 

In 2019, 11.7% of pregnant women with HIV used marijuana, up from the 7% who did so in 2007 but alcohol use remained flat (above)

In 2019, 11.7% of pregnant women with HIV used marijuana, up from the 7% who did so in 2007 but alcohol use remained flat (above)

And a separate September 2020 study found children exposed to cannabis in utero were more likely to have psychotic-like behaviors such as delusions and hallucinations

‘Although opioid use among pregnant people living with HIV was stable, marijuana use in this cohort increased, and medical marijuana legalization may be associated with increased marijuana use in this population,’ the authors wrote.  

‘These patterns of increasing marijuana use among pregnant and postpartum people living with HIV warrant enhanced clinical attention given the potential maternal and child health implications of substance use.

‘These results suggest that future work should investigate postpartum opioid use, the longitudinal patterns of use from pregnancy to postpartum, and the association of use with expanded recreational marijuana legalization.’