Using marijuana while breastfeeding can allow harmful chemicals to pass from the mother to the infant through breast milk or secondhand smoke exposure. To limit potential risk to the infant, breastfeeding mothers who use marijuana should be encouraged to abstain from or significantly reduce marijuana use.
Is it safe for mothers who use marijuana to breastfeed?
Data are insufficient to say yes or no. Chemicals from marijuana in any form (including edibles, oils, or other concentrates) can be passed from a mother to her infant through breast milk. These chemicals have the potential to affect a variety of neurodevelopmental processes in the infant. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the main active component of marijuana, is stored in body fat and slowly released over time, meaning an infant could be exposed to an unknown amount and for an extended period of time. However, data on the effects of marijuana exposure to the infant through breastfeeding are limited and conflicting. To limit potential risk to the infant, breastfeeding mothers who use marijuana should be encouraged to abstain from or significantly reduce marijuana use.
When advising mothers on the medicinal use of marijuana while breastfeeding, consideration should be given to the potential risks of marijuana exposure and benefits of breastfeeding to the infant and mother.
Marijuana use may also impair a mother or other caregiver’s judgement and ability to care for an infant.
- What You Need to Know About Marijuana Use and Pregnancy [PDF-228KB] – CDC
- The Health Effects of Cannabis and Cannabinoids Report – National Academy of Sciences
- LactMed – Search “Cannabis” – U.S. National Library of Medicine
- The Transfer of Drugs and Therapeutics into Human Breast Milk: An Update on Selected Topics – American Academy of Pediatrics
- Breastfeeding and the Use of Human Milk – American Academy of Pediatrics Section on Breastfeeding
- Marijuana Use During Pregnancy and Lactation – American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
- Clinical Protocol #21: Guidelines for Breastfeeding and Substance Use or Substance Use Disorder – Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine
- Page last reviewed: March 21, 2018
- Page last updated: March 21, 2018
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