Breast-feeding has known benefits for both baby and mom, but if a new mom also smokes marijuana, does the drug turn up in her breast milk?
Yes, says new research. But the exact consequences of the small amount of marijuana that makes it to a baby aren’t yet clear.
“This study is just a start to see if marijuana transferred into breast milk. Levels in milk were quite low,” said senior study author Thomas Hale, director of the Infant Risk Center at Texas Tech University School of Medicine in Amarillo.
The researchers also don’t know if the levels of pot in breast milk would rise if a woman smokes more.
Still, study co-author Dr. Teresa Baker, co-director of the Infant Risk Center at Texas Tech, said, “We do not recommend the use of marijuana. There’s concern for the developing brain exposed to THC [the active component in marijuana].”
Both Hale and Baker said that women should abstain from smoking marijuana while breast-feeding because there’s simply no known safe amount.
The study included eight women who used pot. The women lived in Denver, where recreational marijuana is legal. Their use of marijuana varied, with most using the drug infrequently, although one woman said she’d used it seven to 10 times during the past week.
The women were between two and five months after delivery, and all were exclusively breast-feeding their babies.
The study was done completely anonymously. The researchers never knew who the women were.