The use of cannabis among breastfeeding parents in the US is on the rise, with more and more individuals opting for this drug despite the uncertainties surrounding its safety for newborns. A recent observational study conducted in the US has shed light on the presence of THC, the main psychoactive compound in cannabis, in breast milk even up to 12 hours after consumption. However, the exact peak levels of THC in breast milk remain unknown, raising concerns about the potential risks it poses to breastfeeding babies.

Research on the impact of cannabis on breastfeeding infants is limited, mainly due to stigma and the historical exclusion of mothers and breastfeeding individuals from clinical trials. While the choice to use cannabis by parents is often a carefully considered decision, it is essential to acknowledge that it is not medically recommended. With the growing acceptance of recreational and medical cannabis use in the US, some parents are taking the risk despite the lack of concrete evidence on its effects.

As cannabis use becomes more prevalent among breastfeeding parents, there is a pressing need for rigorous research to determine the potential risks and impacts on infants. Unlike alcohol, which has clear guidelines regarding its consumption while breastfeeding, the recommendations for cannabis use are ambiguous. The CDC currently advises abstaining from cannabis entirely, but more specific guidelines are needed to guide parents in making informed decisions.

A recent study recruited 20 breastfeeding mothers who use cannabis regularly from states where the drug is legally available. These mothers provided breast milk samples for analysis after at least 12 hours since their last cannabis use. The study revealed that THC was present in the breast milk of participants, albeit at low concentrations. On average, infants received only 0.07 mg of THC per day, but the long-term effects of this exposure remain unclear.

Unlike alcohol, which follows a predictable pattern in breast milk, THC levels in breast milk showed considerable variability among participants. While some mothers experienced peaks in THC concentrations within 30 minutes to 2 hours after use, others had a continuous increase throughout the day. This inconsistency makes it challenging for parents to determine the safest times for breastfeeding when using cannabis.

The authors of the study emphasize the need for more research to understand the potential effects of regular THC exposure on breastfeeding infants. Parents need to be informed that their cannabis use can result in their infants consuming cannabinoids through breast milk, with uncertain consequences on their development. Heightened awareness and evidence-based recommendations are crucial to support parents in making informed choices regarding cannabis use while breastfeeding.


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