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U.S. Food and Drug Administration

What You Should Know About Using Cannabis, Including CBD, When Pregnant or Breastfeeding

FDA strongly advises against the use of cannabidiol (CBD), tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), and marijuana in any form during pregnancy or while breastfeeding.

Cannabis and Cannabis-derived products have become increasingly available in recent years, with new and different types of products appearing all the time. These products raise questions and concerns for many consumers. And if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, you might have even more questions about whether these products are safe for you.

FDA strongly advises against the use of cannabidiol (CBD), tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), and marijuana in any form during pregnancy or while breastfeeding.

What are cannabis, marijuana, hemp, THC and CBD?

Cannabis is a plant of the Cannabaceae family and contains more than eighty biologically active chemical compounds. The most commonly known compounds are THC and CBD. One type of cannabis plant is marijuana, which contains varying levels of THC, the compound that produces the “high” that is often associated with marijuana. Another type of cannabis plant is hemp. Hemp plants contain extremely low amounts of THC. CBD, which does not produce a “high,” can be derived from either marijuana or hemp.

We are now seeing CBD-containing products everywhere. CBD can be found in many different products, like drugs, foods, products marketed as dietary supplements, and cosmetics. These products often make questionable health promises about CBD.

FDA wants you to know there may be serious risks to using cannabis products, including those containing CBD, if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.

What do we know about the effects of marijuana use during pregnancy and while breastfeeding?

There are many potential negative health effects from using marijuana and other products containing THC during pregnancy and while breastfeeding. In fact, the U.S. Surgeon General recently advised consumers that marijuana use during pregnancy may affect fetal brain development, because THC can enter the fetal brain from the mother’s bloodstream. The Surgeon General also advised that marijuana may increase the risk of a newborn with low birth weight. Research also suggests increased risk for premature birth and potentially stillbirth 1 .

While breastfeeding, it is important to know that breastmilk can contain THC for up to six days after use. This THC may affect a newborn’s brain development and result in hyperactivity, poor cognitive function, and other long-term consequences.

Additionally, marijuana smoke contains many of the same harmful components as tobacco smoke. Neither marijuana nor tobacco products should be smoked around a baby or children.

What do we know about the effects of CBD use during pregnancy and while breastfeeding?

There is no comprehensive research studying the effects of CBD on the developing fetus, pregnant mother, or breastfed baby. FDA is continuing to collect and study the data on the possible harmful effects of CBD during pregnancy and while breastfeeding. However, based on what we do know, there is significant cause for concern.

High doses of CBD in pregnant test animals have caused problems with the reproductive system of developing male fetuses 2 . In addition, based on what we already know about CBD, we expect that some amount of CBD will be transferred to babies through breast milk.

We also know that there is a potential for CBD products to be contaminated with substances that may pose a risk to the fetus or breastfed baby, including THC. We have also heard reports of CBD potentially containing other contaminants (e.g., pesticides, heavy metals, bacteria, and fungus); we are investigating this.

Moreover, CBD has known risks for people in general. Based on clinical studies in humans, risks can include the following:

  • liver toxicity (damage)
  • extreme sleepiness
  • harmful interactions with other drugs

FDA is studying the effects of CBD use from different angles, such as: (1) the use of CBD-containing products, like food, cosmetics, or supplements, over a person’s entire life; and (2) the effects of using these various products in combination. There are many unanswered questions about the science, safety, and quality of products containing CBD.

We especially want to learn more about the effects of CBD during pregnancy and while breastfeeding, including, for example, whether and to what extent the presence of CBD in human milk harms the breastfed baby or the mother’s milk production.

Has FDA approved any CBD products and are there any benefits?

FDA has not approved any CBD products except for one prescription drug to treat rare, severe forms of seizure disorders in children. It is still unclear whether CBD has any other benefits.

Other than the one approved prescription drug, CBD products have not been evaluated or approved by FDA for use as drug products. This means that we do not know:

  • if they are safe and effective to treat a particular disease
  • what, if any, dosage may be considered safe
  • how they could interact with other drugs or foods
  • whether they have dangerous side effects or other safety concerns

The clinical studies that supported the approval of the one available CBD drug product identified risks related to the use of CBD, including liver toxicity (damage), extreme sleepiness, and harmful interactions with other drugs.

What about hemp seeds?

FDA recently completed an evaluation of some hemp seed-derived food ingredients and had no objections to the use of these ingredients in foods. THC and CBD are found mainly in hemp flowers, leaves, and stems, not in hemp seeds. Hemp seeds can pick up miniscule amounts of THC and CBD from contact with other plant parts, but these amounts are low enough to not raise concerns for any group, including pregnant or breastfeeding mothers.

What should you remember about using cannabis or cannabis-derived products?

If you are considering using cannabis, or any products containing THC or CBD, you should be aware of the following:

  • FDA strongly advises that during pregnancy and while breastfeeding, you avoid using CBD, THC, or marijuana in any form.
  • Although many of these products are being sold, FDA has not approved these products, other than one prescription CBD drug product and two prescription drug products containing dronabinol, a synthetic version of THC (which are approved to treat certain side effects of HIV-AIDS or chemotherapy). All three of these prescription products have associated risks and side effects.
  • Always talk with your doctor, nurse, or pharmacist before taking any medicines, vitamins, or herbs while pregnant or breastfeeding.

Do not put yourself or your baby at risk by using cannabis products while pregnant or breastfeeding. Check out these links to learn more about cannabis, marijuana, CBD, and THC, and about taking medicines while you are pregnant.

FDA strongly advises against the use of cannabidiol (CBD), tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), and marijuana in any form during pregnancy or while breastfeeding.

Can You Use CBD Oil While Breastfeeding?

Can You Use CBD Oil While Breastfeeding?

Breastfeeding mothers must be cautious about anything they consume, including CBD oil.

As a breastfeeding mother, you know how carefully you need to monitor your consumption. Certain foods and drinks are off limits, but can you use CBD oil while breastfeeding?

CBD oil has seen a surge in popularity due to recent changes in U.S. legislation and its purported health benefits. With potential benefits including better sleep, reduced stress, and increased appetite, there are certainly ways CBD oil could improve the health of a new mother…but is it safe for a nursing baby?

Research into how CBD oil interacts with the human body is ongoing, and due to ethical constraints, it’s difficult to directly study CBD oil’s effects on breastfeeding mothers and their babies. This does not mean, however, that there is no available information on the subject.

Here is the most up-to-date information about the use of CBD oil while breastfeeding.

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Concerns About Using CBD Oil While Breastfeeding

It goes without saying that the use of any substance, even a natural one like CBD oil, can raise concerns for breastfeeding mothers. Below are a few of the most common questions new mothers may have regarding CBD oil use.

Will CBD Oil Get Me High?

The cannabis plant contains over 100 cannabinoids, including tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) , which interact with they body’s endocannabinoid system . While both THC and CBD have therapeutic properties, they are different in one key way: THC produces an intoxicating effect—the “high”—and CBD does not.

Because CBD will not get you high, it’s becoming more widely accepted and used to treat a variety of ailments, including inflammation, anxiety, and insomnia.

Does CBD Oil Pass Through My Milk?

Sadly, there is no definitive answer to this question. While it has been shown that THC passes through breast milk and can be detrimental to an infant, the effects of CBD oil on newborn babies are not yet known.

It is worth keeping in mind however, that there are some cannabinoids that are naturally present in breast milk, produced by the body’s own endocannabinoid system . While marijuana should not be used at all during pregnancy or breastfeeding, CBD oil has been shown to be of little risk to both adults and children so it may not be problematic at all.

Because there is still no conclusive evidence to support an answer to this question, always speak to your doctor before using CBD oil, especially if you’re a new mother.

Why Would a Mother Consider Using CBD Oil While Breastfeeding?

The uncertainty around CBD oil and its impact on nursing infants may be enough for some mothers to avoid it completely. For others, there are still plenty of reasons to consider using CBD oil while breastfeeding.

Many women who are breastfeeding find themselves affected by postpartum depression (PPD), a cruel condition that can result in anxiety, fatigue, mood swings and detachment from your infant. PPD is usually treated with antidepressant medications that are not suitable for use while breastfeeding. Taking antidepressants ultimately bring a mother’s nursing journey to an abrupt end during an already tumultuous time.

CBD oil has been found to reduce depression in a multitude of ways, one of which is through its impact on anandamide , a neurotransmitter commonly called the “bliss molecule.” Anandamide plays a key role in the experience of joy, happiness, and motivation. CBD oil acts as an anandamide re-uptake inhibitor which means it increases the amount of anandamide available in the brain. For mothers with PPD, the increased amount of anandamide in the brain could decrease the limiting, heavy effects of postpartum depression.

Along with its positive impacts on mood and anxiety , CBD oil has a host of other benefits which may make life easier for breastfeeding mothers.

According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists , breastfeeding mothers should supplement their regular diets with 450-500 extra calories per day to make up for what is fed to the baby. Without an adequate intake of calories, new mothers may experience fatigue and unhealthy weight loss. Studies have shown that certain strains of CBD oil can reduce nausea and increase appetite , providing a useful aid in increasing breastfeeding mothers’ calorie consumption.

Lastly, when being woken multiple times a night to nurse your newborn, decent sleep can be hard to come by. CBD oil has been proven to improve sleep quality and help combat insomnia. CBD oil also reduces the production of cortisol, a hormone that’s triggered by stress and may prevent you from drifting back to sleep.

Is CBD Oil Right for You?

The decision of whether or not to use CBD oil while breastfeeding is one you should make with the help of your doctor. You might also consider speaking with a naturopathic doctor who specializes in using CBD for medical treatment.

For your reference, the Drugs and Lactation Database (LactMed) states in a report on the use of cannabidiol (CBD oil) while breastfeeding that:

“If cannabidiol is required by the mother, it is not a reason to discontinue breastfeeding. However, since no information is available on the use of cannabidiol during breastfeeding, an alternate drug may be preferred, especially while nursing a newborn or preterm infant.”

If in doubt, speak to your doctor to discuss all of the options available to you. Once you have all the information you need, you can decide if CBD oil will be of benefit to you.

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CBD oil has many potential health benefits, but is it safe to use while breastfeeding? We’ve got the latest information to help you draw your own conclusion. ]]>