FDA wants you to know there may be serious risks to using cannabis products, including those containing CBD, if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
FDA is studying the effects of CBD use from different angles, such as: (1) the use of CBD-containing products, like food, cosmetics, or supplements, over a person’s entire life; and (2) the effects of using these various products in combination. There are many unanswered questions about the science, safety, and quality of products containing CBD.
What do we know about the effects of marijuana use during pregnancy and while breastfeeding?
While breastfeeding, it is important to know that breastmilk can contain THC for up to six days after use. This THC may affect a newborn’s brain development and result in hyperactivity, poor cognitive function, and other long-term consequences.
There are many potential negative health effects from using marijuana and other products containing THC during pregnancy and while breastfeeding. In fact, the U.S. Surgeon General recently advised consumers that marijuana use during pregnancy may affect fetal brain development, because THC can enter the fetal brain from the mother’s bloodstream. The Surgeon General also advised that marijuana may increase the risk of a newborn with low birth weight. Research also suggests increased risk for premature birth and potentially stillbirth 1 .
Additionally, marijuana smoke contains many of the same harmful components as tobacco smoke. Neither marijuana nor tobacco products should be smoked around a baby or children.
"Unfortunately, there is no safety data to allow a doctor to recommend the use of cannabis or CBD," says Dr. Gersh.
Research has focused primarily on THC, as opposed to CBD, in breast milk, and the conclusion is that it is possible to pass low levels of the psychoactive ingredient to your baby this way. A study published in the journal Obstetrics and Gynecology looked at samples of breast milk from eight anonymous test subjects who regularly use cannabis and found that babies who were three to five months old and who were breastfed exclusively ingested an estimated 2.5 percent of the maternal dose of THC. (Researchers didn't, however, take blood samples from the infants to see if they had measurable levels of THC in their bodies.)
"We truly do not know what short- or long-term impact on the baby it may have," says Felice Gersh, M.D., a board-certified obstetrician and gynecologist and author of
Is CBD safe while breastfeeding?
Despite the lack of published research, new parents have used cannabinoids for thousands of years, notes Robert Flannery, PhD, owner of Dr. Robb Farms. "Yes, THC and CBD are expressed in small quantities in breast milk," Flannery says. And while he doesn't feel comfortable suggesting CBD for a new parent who is breastfeeding, he acknowledges the use of cannabis in the past by breastfeeding mothers.
Granted, this research was done on marijuana and THC, not hemp and CBD. But experts are concerned about the effect of any cannabinoid on an infant's brain development.
Curiosity around the therapeutic uses for CBD has reached a fever pitch, but is it safe when you’re nursing? Here’s what experts say.
Pregnancy is one thing, but life postpartum often comes with a variety of mental and physical challenges. As many as one in five women suffer from postpartum depression, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Other concerns include anxiety, chronic pain, and insomnia, all compounded by the lack of sleep and hormonal shifts that naturally occur after giving birth. It's no wonder more new parents are gravitating to CBD, or cannabidiol, a component of either a marijuana or hemp plant that is non-psychoactive (unlike THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, which only comes from marijuana).