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 should be advised not to use marijuana or products containing cannabidiol (CBD) in any form while breastfeeding.
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. In addition, some products, including cannabidiol (CBD) products, may contain other contaminants (e.g., pesticides, heavy metals, bacteria, and fungus) that could be dangerous to a mother and her infant.
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.
Data on the effects of marijuana and CBD exposure to the infant through breastfeeding are limited and conflicting. To limit potential risk to the infant, breastfeeding mothers should be advised not to use marijuana or marijuana-containing products in any form, including those containing CBD, while breastfeeding.
If a mother continues to use marijuana or CBD while breastfeeding, she should be encouraged to significantly reduce her intake. To minimize secondhand smoke exposure, marijuana products should not be smoked around babies or children. Marijuana use may also impair a mother or other caregiver’s judgement and ability to care for an infant.
- What You Should Know About Using Cannabis, Including CBD, When Pregnant or Breastfeedingexternal icon – U.S. Food & Drug Administration
- What You Need to Know About Marijuana Use and Pregnancy – CDC
- The Health Effects of Cannabis and Cannabinoids Reportexternal icon – National Academy of Sciences
- LactMedexternal icon – Search “Cannabis” – U.S. National Library of Medicine
- The Transfer of Drugs and Therapeutics into Human Breast Milk: An Update on Selected Topicsexternal icon – American Academy of Pediatrics
- Breastfeeding and the Use of Human Milkexternal icon – American Academy of Pediatrics Section on Breastfeeding
- Marijuana Use During Pregnancy and Lactationexternal icon – American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
- Clinical Protocol #21: Guidelines for Breastfeeding and Substance Use or Substance Use Disorderexternal iconClinical Protocol #21: Guidelines for Breastfeeding and Substance Use or Substance Use Disorderexternal icon– Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine