Cannabis, Pregnancy, and Breast Feeding


In addition to the good feelings that come with being baked, marijuana enthusiasts will often bring up the many health benefits of marijuana—from treating mild pain to severe epileptic diseases. However, there is still question surrounding the impact that smoking weed has on breast feeding. Read on for a fact and fiction sheet on some of these effects.

May 20, 2015


In addition to the good feelings that come with being baked, Marijuana enthusiasts will often bring up the many health benefits of marijuana. The facts are abundant — from pain relief to treating glaucoma and epilepsy — that more and more health benefits of cannabis use are being discovered. One question that remains is the extent of the effect, either positive or negative, that smoking weed has on breast feeding.

To better understand some of these effects, we have put together a fact and fiction sheet. Before you begin, it is important to note that there are few studies about the effects of cannabis consumption during lactation on infant health and development. Due to the limited number of studies, this article will focus on both cannabis consumption during lactation as well as prenatal cannabis exposure.

Fact Vs. Fiction
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Photo credit: chuddlesworth

FACT: Active components of marijuana are excreted into breast milk.

Although the quantities are small, active ingredients can be transmitted through breast milk. According to one study, in one feeding, the infant would ingest 0.8% of the weight-adjusted maternal intake of one joint.

FICTION: Prenatal marijuana use causes malformation of the embryo.

Marijuana has not been implicated as a human teratogen, meaning that it has not been deemed something that causes malformation in the embryo. Further, one study found no correlation between mothers who use marijuana and the rate of serious malformations in embryos: “Among 202 infants exposed to marijuana prenatally, the rate of serious malformations was no higher than the rate among infants whose mothers did not use marijuana.”

FACT: Women do smoke weed during pregnancy or a period of time where they are breast feeding.

According to a 2009 study, 3% of pregnant Canadian women regularly use cannabis during pregnancy.

FICTION: Prenatal marijuana use increases chance of mortality at birth.

According to a study done on Postnatal Mortality, there was no significant difference of mortality rates between mothers who used cannabis during pregnancy and those who didn’t use drugs. One study found that about 44% of the infants tested positive for drugs: 30.5% tested positive for cocaine, 20.2% for opiates, and 11.4% for cannabinoids. It went on to further state that difference in mortality rates between the cannabinoid-positive group and the drug-negative group were not statistically significant.

So, is it Safe to Do it?
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Photo credit: Ben Grey

At the end of the day, it is very difficult to assess the prenatal effect of marijuana. According to a study done in 2001, this is especially true due to the fact that, “In many of the studies on marijuana exposure and pregnancy outcome, women who consumed marijuana also smoked tobacco, drank alcohol, or used other drugs.” This means that it can be difficult to isolate the effect of marijuana use.

While smoking marijuana does not increase the chance of mortality at birth nor causes malformation of the embryo, evidence suggests that marijuana exposure during pregnancy has negative neurobehavioural outcomes, which includes sleep disturbances, impaired visual problem solving, hyperactivity, impassivity, inattention and increased delinquency.

Furthermore, cannabis consumption during breastfeeding is contraindicated (advised against) according to Hale and the American Academy of Paediatrics in Breastfeeding Mothers. It is suggested that during the time of pregnancy and breast feeding you refrain from using cannabis. However, feel free to keep up to date with the latest recipes, stories, and news regarding cannabis by following our blog!



Featured image Teppei Shimokawa

May 20, 2015