1 in 14 pregnant women in Alaska use weed and the number appears to be going up

Ted Hesson
Ian Waldie/Getty Images/Fusion Digital Arts

This 26-year-old Alaska mom does yoga, spends time outdoors and believes in a "healthy lifestyle."

She also smoked marijuana while she was pregnant with her son, according to a recent story by KTOO.


“Before I made the choice to do it, I asked my mom," she told the radio station, requesting anonymity for fear of losing her job in the tourism industry. "And she actually admitted that she did while she was pregnant with me and my siblings. So that kind of made it a little bit more OK after the other research I had done."

The Juneau-based mom said marijuana helped her with nausea during pregnancy and allowed her to stay active. Before the pregnancy, she would smoke recreationally and to treat fibromyalgia, so she was familiar with the drug.


She's part of a broader trend in Alaska, which legalized marijuana use in February. One in fourteen women use the drug while pregnant, according to a survey released earlier this year. Prenatal marijuana use rose slightly between 2010 and 2011.

Credit: State of Alaska Epidemiology Bulletin

Alaska Natives, the state's indigenous population, used weed at nearly double the rate of white women, 11 percent to 6 percent, according to the survey. Women under the age of 24 were also more likely to consume pot while pregnant.

Credit: State of Alaska Epidemiology Bulletin

Is smoking weed while pregnant harmful to the fetus? The head of the Alaska Department of Health told KTOO we don't have enough research to say definitively, but that "the data points to harms." A 2014 study using live mice found that repeated marijuana use during pregnancy could potentially affect the brain development of children.

Ted Hesson was formerly the immigration editor at Fusion, covering the issue from Washington, D.C. He also writes about drug laws and (occasionally) baseball. On the side: guitars, urban biking, and fiction.

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