Marijuana and Breastfeeding

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30 states have broadly legalized medical marijuana and 9 states and the District of Columbia have also  legalized marijuana for recreational use.

Sales are exploding across North America.

Like other legal substances: alcohol, tobacco, caffeine, there are still important affects marijuana can have on a developing fetus and a breast fed infant that are important to understand.

What do we know?

  • Of all recreational drugs, marijuana is the most commonly used by breastfeeding women
  • In the last 30 years, marijuana has become more potent
  • An older study documented negative affects on some movements in infants exposed to marijuana through breastmilk
  • A study published in the journal Pediatrics this week noted that some cannabinoids (chemical compounds that result from the breakdown of marijuana) persist in breast milk in the majority of women for up to 6 days after ingesting or inhaling marijuana.
  • Limited past data suggests infant blood levels of cannabinoids after exposure through breast milk is markedly less than the original adult dose
  • Infants have a slower metabolism of cannabinoids so there is concern that daily exposure of small amounts may cause higher levels that could interfere with healthy brain development.

What are the current recommendations?

What you should do:

  • If you’re planning on getting pregnant, stop any marijuana, tobacco, alcohol and/or illicit drug use. Consult with us (or your OBGYN) or primary care physician if you need help with an addiction.
  • If you’re using marijuana for other medical symptoms, bring them up with your OBGYN. There may be other options that are safer for the health of your fetus.
  • When pregnant and/or nursing, avoid marijuana and second hand exposure as well. Again if you’re experiencing nausea or anxiety (or other medical problems) that you feel marijuana will help, please bring them up with your OBGYN, there are likely other, safer options available to you.


El Camino Women’s Medical Group offers the latest Minimally Invasive Solutions for gynecologic problems.   Drs. Amy TengErika Balassiano, and Pooja Gupta, all members of AAGL (American Association of Gynecologic Laparoscopy) are highly trained and experienced in the field of Minimally Invasive Gynecgologic Surgery.   Dr. Erika Balassiano is also a graduate of the Minimally Invasive Gynecologic Surgery Fellowship at Stanford University, under the supervision of world-renowned Dr. Camran Nezhat.


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