The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on substance use is still evolving, and further investigation is necessary to evaluate its specific implications during pregnancy. The purpose of this study was to examine trends in self-reported tobacco and cannabis use among pregnant women recruited into a prospective cohort at UNM during 2019-2022.
Data were collected from pregnant women (n=184) who completed at minimum the baseline prenatal visit (V1) in the ENRICH-2 study. Participants self-reported substance use during pregnancy, which was ascertained via three repeated study visits. Interviews included questions about the use of combustible tobacco products and the frequency of marijuana use. Interview responses reflect any consumption from the time of last menstrual period (LMP) to the time of delivery. The prevalence of tobacco and cannabis use were calculated for each study year based on the estimated date of delivery (EDD) for each participant.
In 2019, the prevalence of tobacco and cannabis use were 7.1% and 19.6%, respectively. In 2020, which marked the onslaught of the COVID-19 pandemic, tobacco use increased to 11.1% while cannabis use decreased to 11.1%. In 2021, tobacco use declined to 4.2%, although data from early 2022 has illustrated an increase to 18.8%. Interestingly, since 2020, prenatal cannabis use has increased with data collected in 2022 reflecting a higher prevalence at 25% than pre-pandemic measurements.
The prevalence of self-reported prenatal tobacco and cannabis use demonstrate an upward trend between 2019 and 2022, indicating that even if the epidemiological status of SARS2/COVID-19 is slowly improving, there may be long-lasting effects on the prevalence of substance use in vulnerable populations. These trends require further investigation in the context of marijuana legalization policies. Additionally, we plan to evaluate the relationship between maternal substance use and perceived stress/mental health status and identify associations with perinatal outcomes.
Funding: 2R01AA021771 (PI:Bakhireva)