The data come from toxicology reports and a combination of self-reports in which pregnant females say they have used marijuana and positive toxicology reports.
An advantage of the study, he added, was that women not only self-reported marijuana use but also were screened for marijuana - and he thinks the study findings are age-related, as the largest increase in marijuana use was among adolescents and young adults.
A new study suggests that more pregnant women appear to be using marijuana to sooth anxiety and morning sickness. Weed usage among women in that age bracket increased slightly, from 3.4 percent to 5.1 percent.
Still, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends that obstetrician-gynecologists counsel women against using marijuana while trying to get pregnant, during pregnancy, and while they are breastfeeding. Use among women between the ages of 18 and 25 almost doubled during that time, from 9.8 percent in 2009 to 19 percent in 2016.
As the study showed the highest increase in marijuana use among women 24 and younger, that age group might hold clues as to why there has been an overall increase, said Dr. Robyn Horsager-Boehrer, professor and chief of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Texas Southwestern's William P. Clements Jr.
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Researchers relied on self-administered questionnaires completed by 279,457 women eight weeks into their pregnancy.
California was the fist state in the U.S. to legalize medical marijuana in 1996.
Prenatal exposure to marijuana has been associated with low birth weight, impaired brain development, and effects on behaviour.
But data on the actual effects of using marijuana during pregnancy is still unclear.
On January 1, 2018, marijuana will become legal for recreational use in California, making it easier to buy for anyone over 21 there. A total of 23 states have laws that allow the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes to some extent.