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With more efforts being made to research marijuana, a study at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus is underway to investigate the effects of marijuana use in pregnant mothers.

Assistant Professor Torri Metz, MD was recently awarded a Child and Maternal Health Pilot Grant by the Colorado Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute, which will be used to develop a questionnaire for pregnant mothers focusing on their use of marijuana.

Doctors typically discourage use of marijuana during pregnancy, along with other substances that pass the blood brain barrier. This recommendation is somewhat speculative since there is limited data to support their advice.

“If you look at the literature now, you find very mixed results,” Metz said.

“About half of the studies say there is an association between marijuana use and adverse outcomes; about half say there is no association.”

Metz’s specialty is in high-risk pregnancy, and she performs obstetrics duties at University of Colorado Hospital.

As marijuana continues to be legalized at the state level, patients seem more apt to report their use to physicians.

“I am seeing more and more self-reported marijuana use in the clinic,”

Metz said.

“I don’t know if this is a reflection of women using more marijuana or of the women being more willing to tell us about their use.”

In addition to the questionnaire, researchers will interview pregnant mothers, who have consented to the study, on their use of marijuana and compare it with tissue samples taken from the umbilical cord. The combined data will be used to create a method of gathering data for future studies. This baseline process will help determine if marijuana has an effect on premature births, hypertension in pregnant mothers (which can lead to preeclampsia), stillbirths, and other complications.

“These are the obstetric issues we face every day and we don’t understand the impact of marijuana use on these outcomes,” said Metz. “I want to change that.

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