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% of pregnant women who abstain from marijuana use


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Story Behind the Curve

Last Updated: January 2023

Author: Division of Maternal and Child Health, Vermont Department of Health

The Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System (PRAMS) is a survey of women who recently gave birth that asks about their experiences, behaviors, and healthcare utilization before, during and shortly after their pregnancy. Women receive the survey two to six months after giving birth. This report presents highlights for 2020 Vermont births.

  • 22% of women reported use of marijuana in the month before pregnancy, which has significantly increased since 2016 (13%)
  • Marijuana was the most reported substance during pregnancy, outside of tobacco (11%)
Why Is This Important?

According to the CDC:

  • Some research shows that using marijuana while pregnant can cause health problems in newborns, including lower birth weight and abnormal neurological development.
  • Breathing marijuana smoke can also be bad for the pregnant person and the baby. Secondhand marijuana smoke contains many of the same toxic and cancer-causing chemicals found in tobacco smoke. THC, the psychoactive or mind-altering compound in marijuana, may also be passed to infants through secondhand smoke

This indicator is part of Healthy Vermonters 2020 (the State Health Assessment).  This assessment documents the health status of Vermonters at the start of the decade and the population health indicators and goals that guided the work of public health through 2020.  The Health department is excited to showcase the new set of Healthy Vermonters 2030 objectives coming soon.   Click here for more information. 

  • Vermont Department of Health / Substance Use Programs
  • Vermont Child Health Improvement Program
What Works

ACOG recommends:

  •  Before pregnancy and in early pregnancy, all women should be asked about their use of tobacco, alcohol, and other drugs, including marijuana and other medications used for nonmedical reasons.
  • Women reporting marijuana use should be counseled about concerns regarding potential adverse health consequences of continued use during pregnancy.
  • Women who are pregnant or contemplating pregnancy should be encouraged to discontinue marijuana use.
  • Pregnant women or women contemplating pregnancy should be encouraged to discontinue use of marijuana for medicinal purposes in favor of an alternative therapy for which there are better pregnancy-specific safety data.
  • There are insufficient data to evaluate the effects of marijuana use on infants during lactation and breastfeeding, and in the absence of such data, marijuana use is discouraged.
  • The One More Question campaign to provide resources and education for perinatal people and providers
  • Expansion of evidence-based home visiting programs to screen and educate pregnant and parenting people

Similar to statewide efforts, local partners are using data to drive local strategy. For regional data on Maternal and Infant Health indicators, check out our Public Health Data Explorer.

Notes on Methodology

Data is updated as it becomes available and timing may vary by data source.

The PRAMS sample of women who have had a recent live birth is drawn from the state's birth certificate file. Each participating state samples between 1,300 and 3,400 women per year. Women from some groups are sampled at a higher rate to ensure adequate data are available in smaller but higher risk populations. Selected women are first contacted by mail. If there is no response to repeated mailings, women are contacted and interviewed by telephone. Data collection procedures and instruments are standardized to allow comparisons between states.

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