Women’s Questions About Perinatal Cannabis Use and Health Care Provider’s Responses

Abstract

Background: Cannabis use is common among individuals of reproductive age. We examined publicly posted questions about perinatal cannabis use and licensed United States health care provider responses.

Materials and Methods: Data were medical questions on perinatal cannabis use posted online from March 2011 to January 2017 on an anonymous digital health platform. Posters were able to ‘‘thank’’ health care providers for their responses and providers could ‘‘agree’’ with other provider responses. We characterized 364 user questions and 596 responses from 277 unique providers and examined endorsement of responses through provider ‘‘agrees’’ and user ‘‘thanks.’’

Results: The most frequent questions concerned prenatal cannabis use detection (24.7%), effects on fertility (22.6%), harms of prenatal use to the fetus (21.3%), and risks of baby exposure to cannabis through breast milk (14.4%). Provider sentiment in responses regarding the safety of perinatal cannabis use were coded as 55.6% harmful, 8.8% safe, 8.8% mixed/unsure, and 26.8% safety unaddressed. Half of providers (49.6%) discouraged perinatal cannabis use, 0.5% encouraged use, and 49.9% neither encouraged nor discouraged use.

Provider responses received 1,004 provider ‘‘agrees’’ and 583 user ‘‘thanks.’’ Provider responses indicating that perinatal cannabis use is unsafe received more provider ‘‘agrees’’ than responses indicating that use is safe (B = 0.42, 95% CI 0.02–0.82, p = 0.04). User ‘‘thanks’’ did not differ by provider responses regarding safety or dis/ encouragement.

Conclusion: The data indicate public interest in cannabis use effects before, during, and after pregnancy. While most health care providers indicated cannabis use during pregnancy and breastfeeding is not safe, many did not address safety or discourage use, suggesting a missed educational opportunity

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Retrieved from https://www.liebertpub.com/doi/pdf/10.1089/jwh.2019.8112

The opinions expressed in this post are those of the authors. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of the FASD Prevention Conversation Project, its stakeholders or funders.