Does Smoking Weed While Breastfeeding Affect the Baby?
Pregnancy is over, and your baby is finally here! And with that comes the much-awaited return to some of your favorites, like a hot yoga class and the occasional double-shot latte.
But before you resume your pre-pregnancy life, there are still a few don’ts — like smoking weed or pot (aka cannabis) — that should remain on the naughty list.
Here are the facts you should know about smoking weed while breastfeeding.
If you used cannabis before pregnancy, you might wonder whether it’s something you can safely resume now that your little one is here. The short answer is “no” — and here’s why.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), data on the effects of exposing infants to weed via breast milk is lacking. As such, the AAP discourages maternal cannabis use while breastfeeding.
The AAP’s official statement on the use of weed by breastfeeding mothers states that the risks are unknown. For this reason, you need to know the potential risk — and avoid cannabis products while breastfeeding.
And that’s exactly what Gina Posner, MD, a pediatrician at MemorialCare Orange Coast Medical Center, tells her families. “There has not been enough research conducted to know if marijuana is harmful or not to a baby. While we do know that it is passed through the breast milk, it’s likely that there are some effects to the baby,” says Posner.
Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the main ingredient in weed, is fat soluble and accumulates in breast milk. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reports that THC can remain in breast milk for up to 6 days.
But it’s not just THC that breastfeeding parents need to be concerned about, according to Tamika Cross, MD, FACOG, and board-certified OB-GYN. “Often, there are other contaminants such as heavy metals, bacteria, and pesticides in marijuana that are harmful to mom and baby,” she says.
In addition to the risk of passing THC or contaminants to your baby via breast milk, experts believe that smoking pot could impair a parent’s ability to care for their infant.
According to the FDA , using cannabis while breastfeeding can harm your baby. More specifically, it says THC may affect a newborn’s brain. Although more research is needed, it points to hyperactivity and poor cognitive function, among other long-term consequences.
Additionally, researchers say it’s reasonable to speculate that THC or cannabidiol (CBD) exposure during breastfeeding could alter brain development in infants. This is based on previous studies that have suggested that prenatal exposure to cannabis may lead to deficits in cognitive and behavioral function.
A small study published in the journal Obstetrics and Gynecology analyzed breast milk samples from mothers who regularly consumed cannabis.
Researchers found that an exclusively breastfeeding infant ingests an estimated 2.5 percent of the maternal dose (a range of 0.4 to 8.7 percent). This equates to about 8 micrograms of THC per kilogram of body weight over the course of a day.
Although that may not sound like a lot, experts are still very concerned about the potential effect of cannabis on a developing infant, and more specifically, on their brain. It’s important to note that the researchers measured the THC in breast milk, not in the infant’s blood.
The pump and dump method may work after a glass of wine, but it’s not going to help if you’ve been smoking weed.
You shouldn’t use the pump and dump method, says Cross, because cannabis is still in breast milk for several days after use. “There’s no way to know how long the marijuana will remain in your system, as it varies person to person,” she explains.
A study published in the journal Pediatrics found that THC was detectable in 34 of the 54 samples of breast milk up to 6 days after the last reported use.
Although the estimated daily dose of THC ingested by the infant was lower than an adult dose, researchers pointed out that there was a high variability in breast milk concentrations. This means some infants may be exposed to amounts closer to an adult’s daily dose.
Major organizations like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, American Academy of Pediatrics, and American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists all agree that no amount of cannabis has been proven safe to use while breastfeeding.
In other words, they recommend avoiding pot for the duration of breastfeeding. Additionally, the CDC states that mothers should be advised not to use products containing CBD in any form while breastfeeding.
Smoking weed while breastfeeding isn't a good idea because of its potential risks to your baby. Here are the facts you should know about smoking weed while breastfeeding.
Study Finds Marijuana Stays in Breast Milk for Longer Than Some May Think
ThatвЂ™s too long to вЂњpump and dumpвЂќ
For new moms experiencing nausea вЂ” or simply those who are stressed out вЂ” online support groups are filled with women citing the benefits of marijuana. But despite the growing acceptance of cannabis, research suggests that women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should avoid the drug.
A study published Monday in the journal Pediatrics found that low levels of the chemicals in marijuana were measurable in breast milk up to six days after women had smoked pot or eaten an edible. ThereвЂ™s long been a lack of research into the area but this new study signals that it Marijuana may stay in breast milk longer than some mothers may think.
However, itвЂ™s not clear whether these chemicals negatively affect child development yet, senior study author Christina Chambers tells Inverse.
вЂњItвЂ™s really important to be able to gather more information on marijuana so that pediatricians can know what to say, with good evidence to back that up, and moms can make better decisions,вЂќ says Chambers, a pediatric researcher at the University of California, San Diego who also helps run a counseling service called MotherToBaby.
To better understand how much marijuana or its active chemicals actually get into breast milk and how long they remain, Chambers and her team analyzed samples donated by 54 women to a breast milk repository between 2014 and 2017. The women also answered questions about their use of marijuana, prescription medications and other substances in the 14 days before their milk samples were collected.
The researchers found that tetrahydrocannabinol or THC, the main mind-altering substance in marijuana, was detectable in 34 samples, or 63 percent of the breast milk samples for up to six days after the motherвЂ™s last reported use. The average concentration: 9.47 nanograms of THC per milliliter of breast milk.
That may seem like a really small amount, especially considering that a baby will only actually ingest about one percent of that THC, but previous research in rodents indicates that even small amounts of THC can impair concentration, attention, memory and problem-solving abilities, according to Dr. Teresa Baker, an associate Professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Texas Tech University Health Sciences.
вЂњIf a drug is producing physiological symptoms in the mom, itвЂ™s probably in large enough quantities that we should be concerned about her breast milk too,вЂќ Baker says.
Nevertheless, rodents are not humans, and there havenвЂ™t been enough long-term studies in humans to determine the cognitive, intellectual and behavioral effects of THC in children, she says.
Given the uncertainty of the drugвЂ™s effects, the duration it takes to get it completely out of oneвЂ™s system may be even more important. For example, mothers may be able to drink a cup of coffee and their body will metabolize get rid of all the caffeine in a few hours. During that time mothers may decide to skip a feeding, or they may decide to вЂњpump and dumpвЂќ the breast milk, Chambers says. But because of the way marijuana metabolizes and dissolves easily in fat, THC and other compounds stay in the body longer. Studies show that in daily users, compounds from cannabis are detectable in bodily fluids for up to 30 days after last use. Moms who regularly smoke or ingest pot may not have the option to вЂњpump and dump.вЂќ
Moreover, because the study did not specifically track when mothers consumed cannabis, it may be possible that the levels of THC that babies are exposed to in breast milk are much higher immediately after use.
But because breast milk can be extremely beneficial to infants, researchers agree that momвЂ™s who smoke weed should not give up breastfeeding either. вЂњIt puts pediatricians in a really awkward position,вЂќ Chambers says. ThatвЂ™s why itвЂ™s so important to find out how marijuana can affect a breastfeeding motherвЂ™s milk supply вЂ” and for how long, she says.
However, until we know more, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that mothers simply avoid marijuana during pregnancy and while breastfeeding.
ThatвЂ™s too long to вЂњpump and dumpвЂќ