Is It Safe To Breastfeed After Consuming Marijuana? New Research Explores THC Levels In Infants

Many women who breastfeed choose cannabis over other medications to manage conditions like anxiety and chronic pain. A recent study conducted by Washington State University uncovered that THC, the psychoactive component of cannabis, persists in breast milk without a predictable peak concentration time.

The study revealed that THC levels in breast milk do not follow a clear pattern like alcohol, which typically peaks and then diminishes.

Study Methodology And Findings

The research, led by Prof. Courtney Meehan, a biological anthropologist at WSU, analyzed milk samples from 20 breastfeeding mothers who regularly used cannabis.

Participants provided samples in their homes after 12 hours of abstaining from cannabis and at various intervals post-consumption.

The study discovered that THC was always detectable in the milk samples, even after the abstention period.

Low THC Concentrations: Implications Unknown

The amounts of THC found were relatively low, with infants estimated to receive about 0.07 mg per day—a stark contrast to the 2 mg found in common low-dose edibles.

However, the impact of this THC exposure on infants remains unknown.

Meehan stressed the importance of this knowledge gap. "Breastfeeding parents need to be aware that if they use cannabis, their infants are likely consuming cannabinoids via the milk they produce, and we do not know whether this has any effect on the developing infant."

Variable THC Concentrations In Breast Milk

The concentration of THC in milk was found to be greater for participants who used cannabis more frequently during the 8-to-12 hour study period.

Those who used cannabis only once during the study period experienced THC concentrations peaking at variable times, typically around 2 hours after use, though it could be as soon as 30 minutes.

More frequent usage was associated with higher THC levels even after a 12-hour abstention. These findings confirm that infants are exposed to measurable amounts of THC through breast milk.

Research Needs And Support

The findings underscore the need for more rigorous research to establish guidelines similar to those for alcohol consumption in breastfeeding mothers. This research was published in the journal Breastfeeding Medicine and was supported by State of Washington Initiative Measures 171 and 502 and the WSU Health Equity Research Center.

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Posted In: CannabisNewsHealth CareMarketsGeneralBreastfeeding Medicinemedical marijuana breastfeedingProf. Courtney MeehanTHCWashington State University
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