Is it safe for mothers who use Marijuana, to breastfeed?

Legalization of recreational Cannabis use in many states has rapidly led to increasing concerns in the medical community, specifically the potential health risks related to this drug, in pregnant and breastfeeding women.  Despite the fact that Cannabis is one of the most commonly used drugs in our present society, recognizing the long-term neurobehavioral outcome of Cannabis use, specifically in the growing fetal brain is limited.

According to the CDC-(Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), “Using Marijuana while breastfeeding can allow harmful chemicals to pass from the mother to the infant through breast milk or second -hand smoke exposure. To limit potential risk to the infant, breastfeeding mothers should be advised not to use Marijuana or products containing Cannabidiol(CBD) in any form while breastfeeding.”

Chemical compounds from Marijuana in various forms, such as oils, edibles, and concentrates pass from a mother to her infant through breast milk.  Potentially, these chemicals may affect a multitude of neurodevelopmental behaviors in an infant.  Tetrahydrocannabinol(THC), the main active element of Marijuana, is stored in the mom’s body fat and is released slowly over a period of time; therefore, an infant may be exposed to an unknown quantity and for a long duration of time.  With the rise of CBD(Cannabidiol)-containing products, there is also the risk of exposure to toxic chemicals that contaminate these substances in various forms, such as pesticides, bacteria, and strains of fungus, which can be dangerous to a mother and her infant.  Before providing advice to breastfeeding mothers on the medicinal use of Marijuana, cautious consideration should be taken to discuss the potential risks of Marijuana exposure and the benefits of breastfeeding to the mother and infant.

Through research, the data continues to be conflicting on the risks of Marijuana and CBD exposure through breast milk.  If a mother chooses to continue using Marijuana or CBD during breastfeeding,  it is encouraged to notably reduce her intake.  To lessen exposure to second-hand smoke, Marijuana should not be smoked in the presence of babies and or children.

The FDA(Food and Drug Administration) strongly advises against the use of CBD(Cannabidiol), THC(Tetrahydrocannabinol), and Marijuana in any form during pregnancy or while breastfeeding.  The FDA continues its ongoing research on the safety of CBD-containing products on breastfeeding, as well as how they affect mother’s milk supply.

The US Surgeon General recently stated that breast milk may contain THC for up to 6 days after use.  This THC may affect a newborn’s brain development and result in hyperactivity, poor cognitive function, and other long-term consequences.

It is truly important to always speak to your physician, nurse, and pharmacist before taking any medications, vitamins, or herbals while pregnant and or breastfeeding.


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