THC found in breast milk of new moms who smoke marijuana, study says

Many are aware of the dangers associated with smoking marijuana during pregnancy. However, the risks could still be high if breastfeeding moms partake in the activity even after giving birth, according to a new report. 

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Researchers from Texas Tech University recently conducted a small study, published in Obstetrics and Gynecology, to determine if cannabis can be transferred to breast milk. 

To do so, they examined eight women who considered themselves occasional smokers and were currently breastfeeding their 2-5 month-old infants. After 24 hours of no marijuana, the participants were instructed to inhale 0.1 grams of the plant, which contained 23 percent of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the ingredient that causes the euphoric high.

Related: One woman in 14 still smokes while pregnant — and these states have the highest rates

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Scientists then collected samples of their breast milk at four different stages: 20 minutes, one hour, two hours and four hours after consuming. After analyzing their results, they found low levels of THC concentrations in the milk. 

In fact, they estimated that babies receive 2.5 percent of their mother’s dose, which are just micrograms of the drug. However, they said the amount is still concerning. 

“The long-term neurobehavioral effect of exposure to delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol on the developing brain is unclear,” the authors wrote. “Mothers should be cautious using cannabis during pregnancy and breastfeeding.”

Related: Study says more pregnant women are smoking marijuana for morning sickness

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises against using marijuana when pregnant, planing to become pregnant and breastfeeding, as THC can negatively affect a baby’s development

While the data on the effects of marijuana exposure through breastfeeding is limited, previous research shows it can cause low birth weight and even learning difficulties as the child becomes older. 

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