New Study About THC in Breastmilk Requires More Research, Experts Say

New Research states that THC Can be Present in Breast Milk for 6 Days after Consumption, but more research is needed.

In the new study, 50 women who reported using cannabis supplied breast milk samples to Mommy’s Milk, a human milk research lab at the University of California, San Diego.

The women then filled out a questionnaire with information about the use of cannabis and other medications during the 14 days prior to giving the samples.

Analysis of the samples showed the presence of THC in 34, or 63 percent, of the 54 samples. Five of the samples, or 9 percent, had detectable levels of CBD. THC was detected in samples up to six days after reported cannabis use.

“Whether this means that some level — or any level — of these metabolites can negatively influence child development is unknown at this point,” said senior study author Christina Chambers, a professor of pediatrics at the University of California, San Diego and director of clinical research for the Department of Pediatrics at UCSD and Rady Children’s Hospital.

Chambers called for more research on the effect cannabinoids may have on a developing fetus and said that her team is planning further work to study the effect that THC exposure in children can have on their performance in neurobehavioral testing.

In reviewing new information such as this, it is important that we consider other studies and expert opinions in this sector of cannabis research.

Joelle Puccio, BSN RN and National Perinatal Association nurse, said, “I find that this is in kind with many publications on the topic in that it misrepresents the data in order to overstate the risk. This translates into policy that directly harms babies and mothers by denying them the well proven benefits of breastfeeding and in more extreme cases (and states) leads to child welfare or even law enforcement involvement which at best causes undue stress to families in an already stressful time, and at worst needlessly separates children from their parents.”

Kelley Bruce is the founder of Cannamommy, which advocates for mothers who choose natural medicines. Bruce said, "I think it is important for these types of studies to be happening, but also think it is important to remember that we still have no understanding of what a "harmful" level of THC is. This study, while very interesting still leaves a lot of questions on the table. We need to really address this issue and allow for funding research in this area. I hope to see more of these studies with larger samples of participants."

The study was published Monday, August 27, 2018 in the journal Pediatrics.

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