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Marijuana use and pre-term birth linked: study

Experts have warned women against using marijuana whilst pregnant, following research that has linked its use with pre-term pregnancy.

The international research, led by the University of Adelaide, looked at data from more than 5500 pregnant women from Australia, New Zealand, Ireland and the UK who took part in the Screening for Pregnancy Endpoints study. Of those women, 5.6 per cent reported using marijuana before or during pregnancy.

The team considered a range of risk factors, including cigarette smoking, age, obesity and socio-economic status, and their links to serious pregnancy complications. Once all other major risk factors were accounted for, continued marijuana use through to 20 weeks' gestation was independently associated with a five-fold increase in the risk of pre-term birth.

Based on the findings, the research team considers marijuana to be a major public health concern for pregnant women and their babies.

Lead author professor Claire Roberts, from the University of Adelaide’s Robinson Research Institute, said: "Anecdotally, we know that some women are using marijuana to reduce nausea in pregnancy, even though there is no medical evidence to support this."

The study was unable to determine whether there is a safe time prior to 20 weeks' gestation to give up marijuana, therefore, Roberts recommended total abstinence from marijuana during pregnancy.

Click below to hear more from Claire Roberts.

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