Cannabis and Breastfeeding

Cannabis and Breastfeeding

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Cannabis and Breastfeeding

Unsurprisingly, there is limited data on the safety of cannabis use in breastfeeding new mothers. While a 2015 study found cannabinoids in breastmilk, the effects on the baby still aren’t apparent. What is clear is that the human body’s natural endocannabinoid 2-AG, the brain’s version of THC, is passed from mother to child during breastfeeding. This cannabinoid is key to keeping newborns alive. 

Research dating to 2004 has shown that these compounds stimulate suckling among newborn mice. This could be because endocannabinoids help stimulate muscles in the tongue. Researcher Ester Fride explained cannabinoids might help prevent a disease known as “non-organic failure to thrive” when a newborn baby cannot eat enough food to sustain itself.

Fride has called these endocannabinoids “extremely vital for proper human development.” In some of Fride’s later work, she explains that endocannabinoids play a significant role in fetal brain development. She also discovered that these cannabinoids are altered when a pregnant mother is under stress.

Fride’s findings show us that cannabinoids can have a significant impact on developing babies. They also show us that these compounds play a much more complicated role in human development than we have previously expected. In certain medical instances, like failure to thrive, cannabinoids may prove to be a potential therapeutic target for treating the disease in the future. “Some might argue that CBD supplementation during breastfeeding can benefit the baby,” says Gill.

Are there negatives to breastfeeding while using cannabis?

A 2012 review found that babies exposed to THC through breast milk might have an increased risk of the following:

  • Tremor
  • Poor sucking reflexes
  • Decreased feeding time
  • Slow weight gain
  • Changes in visual responses
  • Delayed motor development

Research completed in 2004 by Ester Fride, mentioned earlier, proposed that children may be less sensitive to the psychoactive effects of THC. This is because cannabinoid receptors are not fully expressed in developing organisms. This fact led Fride to suggest that cannabinoids be tested as a potential treatment for certain pediatric diseases, such as cystic fibrosis. 

Of course, this argument is a slippery slope regarding newborns; clinical trials are needed to determine whether or not this is accurate.

Want to read more

Marijuana & Breastfeeding: Yes Or No?

New Colorado Study Wants Breastfeeding and Cannabis Participants 

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