I have come across women who smoked cannabis during the time that they were breastfeeding and at least a handful of grown-up children who were nursed by cannabis-smoking moms.
At the end, they all turned out very well.
The mothers were calm and did not have problems with their lactation, while the children grew up to be smart and artistic.
But has smoking cannabis while breastfeeding proven to be good for the baby and the mother?
Let us first define cannabis or marijuana.
Cannabis is derived from hemp plant, Cannabis saliva.
Many states have legalised this plant for its potent medicinal properties, which is supported with scientific findings from Ancient Chinese times to treat Anorexia, Asthma, Nausea, Pain, Peptic Ulcer, Alcoholism, Glaucoma, Epilepsy, Depression, Migraine, Anxiety, Inflammation, Hypertension, Insomnia, Cancer.
However, due to its hallucinogenic properties, this plant has been marked as an illegal substance in most countries around the globe.
With regard to the effect of cannabis in children of breastfeeding moms, studies have found that active components of marijuana, known as delta 9 TetraHydroCannabinol (THC) can stay in the breastmilk for a long time.
THC is a fat-soluble substance that can be stored in the fat tissue and are excreted into breastmilk in small quantities, which as suggested, may trigger euphoria, modification of lucidity and perceptions, and depersonalization.
“The more marijuana that a woman smokes, the greater the amount of THC in her breast milk”, Dr. David Mendez, a neonatologist at Miami Children’s Hospital, said.
Though a positive test for “THC can appear from babies who have been breast-fed by a woman who smokes marijuana, the THC that’s transferred to the baby through breastfeeding is not enough to produce hallucinogenic effects in the baby”, said Martha Lasley, a lactation consultant from Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women & Babies in Orlando.
Some Astley SJ, Little RE. Maternal marijuana use during lactation and infant development at one year. Neurotoxicol Teratol. 1990;12:161-8. PMID: 2333069 studies have concluded that frequent use of cannabis could decrease motor development of the child at one year of age, but not growth or intellectual development. More attention has been directed towards adverse effects of prenatal cannabis exposure.
On the other hand, S. J. Astley and R. E. Little, “Maternal marijuana use during lactation and infant development at one year, Neurotoxicology and Teratology, vol. 12, no. 2, pp. 161–168, 1990. View at Publisher · View at Google Scholar other studies show no findings of a correlation between cannabis exposure during the third month after birth and the motor and mental developments.
As far as studies are concerned, there is little known adverse effects of postnatal cannabis exposure through breastfeeding due to the limited number of tests done in lactating women.
LactMed, a database from the National Institutes of Health, says that “marijuana use should be minimized or avoided by nursing mothers. It appears preferable to encourage mothers who use marijuana to continue breastfeeding while minimizing infant exposure to marijuana smoke and reducing marijuana use.”
However, passing on K. C. Schoendorf and J. L. Kiely, “Relationship of sudden infant death syndrome to maternal smoking during and after pregnancy,” Pediatrics, vol. 90, no. 6, pp. 905–908, 1992. View at Google Scholar second-hand smoke to your baby may add the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and many respiratory diseases.
Breastfeeding, in any case, is recommended still because of the benefits it boasts, including a reduced risk of SIDS.
The best thing to do is to avoid the use of cannabis and other vices like alcohol, tobacco and cocaine to make sure that you are absolutely present, alert, and healthy for the the baby that’s totally dependent on you.
READ: Are you breastfeeding? Here are 4 ways to consume Moringa’s lactose-boosting powers
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