Cannabis Use While Breastfeeding May Expose Babies to THC

Cannabis Use While Breastfeeding May Expose Babies to THC
Cannabis Use While Breastfeeding May Expose Babies to THC. Credit | LightFieldStudios

United States: According to a recent study, pregnant moms who really enjoy smoking marijuana time and again may end up giving their cute little babies the exposure to THC through breast milk.

THC Transfer through Breast Milk

Researchers have also discovered that the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis, THC, dissolves in the lipids found in human milk.

Results indicate that even after the mothers had refrained for 12 hours, there was always detectable THC in the mother’s milk produced by cannabis users.

Impact on Infant Development Uncertain

The levels found were minimal; according to study, breast milk gives newborns an average of 0.07 mg of THC each day. In contrast, two milligrams of THC are present in a typical low-dose edible.

Mothers Urged to Exercise Caution

Researchers stress that no one is certain how THC, in any dosage, may impact a baby’s development.

Lead researcher Courtney Meehan, a biological anthropologist at Washington State University, stated in a news release that “breastfeeding parents need to be aware that if they use cannabis, their infants are likely consuming cannabinoids via the milk they produce, and we do not know whether this has any effect on the developing infant.”

Even worse, there’s no set period of time during which a cannabis user might anticipate a peak and subsequent fall in the THC contents in their breast milk.

It is recommended that new moms refrain from nursing for at least two hours following alcohol use. For cannabis, there are no such regulations.

Study Methodology and Findings

THC levels in breast milk peaked 30 minutes to 2.5 hours after cannabis use for research participants who used the drug just once before dropping. THC concentrations in mothers who smoked marijuana more often throughout the research increased steadily over the course of the day.

“The range was rather great. Lead researcher Elizabeth Holdsworth stated, “You’re not going to know when THC is at its peak in the milk if you’re trying to avoid breastfeeding when the concentration of THC peaks.” She completed the study while completing her post-doctoral studies at Washington State University. Currently, she teaches anthropology as an assistant professor at Ohio State University.

Complex Decision-Making by Mothers

Researchers examined the milk of twenty cannabis-using nursing moms whose children were under six months old for the study. The mothers gave thorough accounts of their marijuana usage and gave samples of their milk after quitting cannabis for at least 12 hours and then on a regular basis thereafter.

All of the samples were collected using cannabis that they had themselves bought, at times of their choice, in their houses. The same team’s previous study discovered that many nursing mothers use cannabis for medicinal purposes, such as to treat chronic pain or anxiety.

Call for Further Research

“Our findings indicate that mothers who consume cannabis are making deliberate choices,” said researcher Shelley McGuire, a professor at the University of Idaho who specializes in nutrition for mothers and their children. These women considered their options carefully. This is by no means an arbitrary choice of lifestyle.

The researchers pointed out that THC is just one of several widely used chemicals present in breast milk, the effects of which on nursing infants are largely unknown.

In order for mothers to make the best decisions, McGuire stated, “this is an area that needs substantial, rigorous research.” Breastfeeding Medicine is the publication where the new study is published.