Marijuana is the most commonly used drug among nursing mothers. It’s been argued that pregnant and nursing mothers use marijuana to manage the side effects of pregnancy. However, that has not been clinically proven. This begs the question as to whether it’s safe for nursing mothers to use marijuana.
Unlike alcohol and other drugs, the human body metabolizes marijuana a bit slower hence the active ingredients in marijuana are stored in fat cells and remain in the body for weeks. Given that the body uses fat to make breast milk, marijuana is readily passed to the baby through breast milk. A study conducted in 2018 shows that about 2.5 percent of active chemicals in cannabis are passed to the baby through breast milk.
Some of the potential risks associated with the use of marijuana among nursing mothers include;
- Risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) – Newborns who are exposed to marijuana smoke are at a higher risk of dying of SIDS.
- Early exposure to marijuana and related products may impair an infant’s mental development. This may lead to defective working memory, impaired thinking process, and inability to pay attention.
- Studies have expressed a close link between early exposure to cannabis in young children and an increased risk for hyperactivity and impulsivity.
- Clinical tests done on animals indicate that exposing an infant to marijuana through breast milk increases the risk of them using drugs later in their life. Marijuana increases the reinforcing effects of other drugs. However, additional research is needed to substantiate those findings. .
THC; an active chemical present in cannabis inhibits the production of prolactin hence it affects the quantity and quality of breast milk.
The limited body of knowledge with regard to the use of marijuana by nursing mothers makes it difficult for doctors and the medical community to give specific recommendations about marijuana and breastfeeding, or to evaluate whether there are acceptable limits of the amount of marijuana that might be safe for infants.
The little research available contends that exposing newborns to marijuana and related products is linked with undesirable emotional, mental, and behavioral problems later in their life. Therefore, doctors recommend that nursing mothers avoid consumption of marijuana in any form.