The recent legalization of marijuana use in several U.S. states has brought to attention an important topic that pretty much lacks any scientific research – is there any connection between marijuana and breastfeeding?
While many organizations, like the American Academy of Pediatrics, advise against any use during the nursing period, there is in fact little to no data regarding infant exposure to tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) or other marijuana components.
With samples provided by a program exploring the benefits of breastfeeding milk, Mommy’s Milk, researchers detected THC in 63% of cases and traces were noticeable after six days of use.
“Pediatricians are often put into a challenging situation when a breastfeeding mother asks about the safety of marijuana use. We don’t have strong, published data to support advising against use of marijuana while breastfeeding, and if women feel they have to choose, we run the risk of them deciding to stop breastfeeding — something we know is hugely beneficial for both mom and baby”, said Christina Chambers, PhD, professor in the Department of Pediatrics at UC San Diego School of Medicine.
Nursing is essential for the development of babies, and is linked with reducing or preventing a number of conditions like asthma, diabetes, obesity, and also improving immunity and performance on intelligence tests.
The active components in marijuana, cannabinoids, tend to bind to fat molecules, which are abundant in milk.
“We found that the amount of THC that the infant could potentially ingest from breast milk was relatively low, but we still don’t know enough about the drug to say whether or not there is a concern for the infant at any dose, or if there is a safe dosing level”, added Dr. Chambers.
The results so far are inconclusive, but prompt a series of related questions regarding long term exposure, differences in intake and doses etc. The study is supposed to be a starting point for further investigation, which will hopefully clarify some of these issues.