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The Risks of Marijuana Use While Breastfeeding: What You Need to Know

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Learn about the potential dangers of marijuana use while breastfeeding.

description: an anonymous image showing a mother breastfeeding her baby, with a bottle of cbd oil and marijuana leaves in the background, symbolizing the potential risks of using marijuana while breastfeeding.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has issued a warning about the risks associated with using marijuana while breastfeeding. It explains that chemicals from any form of marijuana can be passed on from the nursing parent to the infant through milk—and these chemicals can have harmful effects on the baby's developing brain and body. This includes both tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive component of marijuana, and cannabidiol (CBD), a non-psychoactive compound.

FDA strongly advises against the use of cannabidiol (CBD), tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), and marijuana in any form during pregnancy or while breastfeeding due to potential risks to the baby's health. Research has shown that these compounds can have lasting effects on the developing brain, leading to issues with cognitive function, behavior, and overall development.

Going directly to the lab results. Because cannabinoids are fat-soluble, THC can impact a parent's milk supply, and “can be detected in breast milk up to six days after the last use,” according to the AAP. This means that even occasional use of marijuana can result in the infant being exposed to THC through breast milk, potentially leading to negative health outcomes.

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 long-term consequences of this exposure are not fully understood. More research is needed on how marijuana use during pregnancy could impact the health and development of infants, given changing policies and attitudes towards cannabis use.

A second study, also published in Pediatrics, found that THC, the molecule that gives marijuana most of its psychoactive effects, accumulates in breast milk and can be detected in infants. This raises concerns about the potential impact of marijuana use on breastfeeding infants and highlights the need for further research in this area.

Pregnant and recently postpartum women who have mental health disorders may be vulnerable to using cannabis to self-medicate, a study finds. This underscores the importance of providing support and resources for women who may be struggling with mental health issues during pregnancy and breastfeeding, to ensure the health and well-being of both mother and baby.

In 2018, the journal Obstetrics and Gynecology published a small study of eight women who used marijuana while breastfeeding, and found that THC was present in the breast milk of all participants. This highlights the need for healthcare providers to educate pregnant and nursing women about the potential risks of marijuana use and to provide alternative methods of managing symptoms.

Results: We identified 3 categories of reasons that people use cannabis during pregnancy and lactation: sensation-seeking for fun and enjoyment; self-treating for physical or psychological health conditions; and coping with stress, anxiety, or depression. These findings suggest that there may be a need for more comprehensive education and support for pregnant and breastfeeding women who are considering using marijuana.

marijuanabreastfeedingthccbdinfantshealth risksamerican academy of pediatricsresearchmental healthself-medication

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