NOV 23, 2021 10:30 AM PST

No Short Term Effects of THC-positive Breast Milk

WRITTEN BY: Kerry Charron

A recent study found that THC does not have short-term negative effects on an early, premature baby’s health. Researchers compared preterm infants who were given breast milk from THC positive mothers to those given formula or THC negative breast milk, and they reported no significant differences in breathing difficulties, lung development, or feeding issues.  

However, research also suggests pre- and post-natal exposure to cannabis may be linked to low birth weight, attention deficit, and delayed learning development. A study conducted by University of Colorado researchers determined there is no known safe amount of cannabis for mothers. A study published in JAMA examined the persistence of cannabis in breast milk. Researchers noted differences in strain potency used by participants, frequency of use, and individual metabolism rates that contribute to variability of THC levels in breast milk, but the study confirmed that THC stays in breast milk for 6 weeks. Since most research indicates potential negative impacts on an infant’s development, most medical professionals advise against using cannabis while pregnant or lactating. 

Some mothers choose to relieve anxiety and depression with cannabis despite awareness of legal risks and research findings indicating cannabis consumption by the mother predisposes the baby to emotional, intellectual, and physical developmental disorders. Mothers report that cannabis helps them with insomnia, depression, and the stress of being a new parent.

Until more research sheds light on cannabinoid absorption from breast milk, many medical professionals take a realistic approach to advising patients and focusing on harm reduction strategies if a mother chooses to consume cannabis. Their recommendations may include suggesting small doses and opting for edibles and tinctures instead of smoking flower. Senior investigator Dr. Maya Bunik explains how advocating for complete reduction of use is critical; "to limit the unknown THC effects on fetal brain development and promote safe breastfeeding, it is critical to emphasize marijuana abstention both early in pregnancy and postpartum. To help encourage successful abstention, we need to look at - and improve - the system of supports we offer new moms." Appropriate support systems can help new patients cope with the mental and physical stressors of motherhood and make responsible cannabis consumption choices during the pregnancy and lactation stages.

 

Sources: AAP, JAMA, Frontiers, NIH

About the Author
  • Kerry Charron writes about medical cannabis research. She has experience working in a Florida cultivation center and has participated in advocacy efforts for medical cannabis.
You May Also Like
DEC 31, 2021
Cell & Molecular Biology
Cells Found to Release Super Small Bioactive Particles Called Supermeres
DEC 31, 2021
Cells Found to Release Super Small Bioactive Particles Called Supermeres
We know that cells are constantly secreting molecules that can have many different biological impacts; the term extracel ...
JAN 01, 2022
Genetics & Genomics
Genetic Variant Makes Sugar Healthier for Carriers
JAN 01, 2022
Genetic Variant Makes Sugar Healthier for Carriers
There's been a lot of debate about whether carbohydrates are healthy or harmful. While the body needs some carbohydrates ...
JAN 04, 2022
Drug Discovery & Development
Micro-robots that can deliver drugs to treat brain cancer
JAN 04, 2022
Micro-robots that can deliver drugs to treat brain cancer
Scientists have developed tiny, microscopic robots with the capability to swim through the bloodstream, enter the brain, ...
JAN 13, 2022
Immunology
Convalescent Plasma Therapy 'Keeps up' With COVID Variants
JAN 13, 2022
Convalescent Plasma Therapy 'Keeps up' With COVID Variants
A recent study has demonstrated that COVID-19 convalescent plasma treatment (or blood from individuals who have recovere ...
JAN 07, 2022
Drug Discovery & Development
The genetic testing company 23andMe begins phase 1 clinical trial for cancer drug
JAN 07, 2022
The genetic testing company 23andMe begins phase 1 clinical trial for cancer drug
This week, 23andMe, the consumer genetic testing giant, announced that it has begun a phase 1 clinical trial o ...
JAN 17, 2022
Cell & Molecular Biology
'Space Anemia' is Due to an Accelerated Loss of Red Blood Cells
JAN 17, 2022
'Space Anemia' is Due to an Accelerated Loss of Red Blood Cells
When astronauts go to space, many of them become anemic; they lose red blood cells. It's been suggested that space anemi ...
Loading Comments...