CANNABIS and BREASTFEEDING: What effect on the health of the newborn?

The long-term effects of cannabis use in young mothers on the “quality” of breast milk, however, remain to be clarified in future studies. However, the authors note that, on the other hand, there is ample evidence of the benefits of breast milk for premature babies, with breast milk being one of the best ways to improve the health outcomes of these most vulnerable babies and of improving the health outcomes of these most vulnerable babies prevents infections and intestinal problems, compared to formula.

This is the analysis of the medical records of 763 babies born prematurely during the period 2014-2020. The researchers compared preterm infants breastfed from THC-positive mothers to those fed with formula or breast milk from THC-negative mothers:

  • 17% of the mothers in the study were THC positive at delivery;

  • Analysis does not identify any difference in short-term health effects, such as shortness of breath, delayed lung development, or eating disorders;
  • Premature babies born to mothers who test positive for cannabis at birth and are breastfed have as good health outcomes when released as other babies.

“Providing breast milk from THC-positive mothers to premature babies has been debated until now because the long-term effects of this exposure remain poorly understood,” recalls lead author Dr. Natalie L. Davis, associate professor. University of Maryland and a physician at the University of Maryland Children’s Hospital. “For this reason, we currently strongly recommend that pregnant women avoid cannabis use during pregnancy and while breastfeeding.”

However, the study is reassuring about the possible short-term health effects.

More research is still needed to better understand the long-term effects of THC-positive mothers’ milk on babies. However, it is still difficult to study the effects of THC. However, the authors highlight a possible indirect effect of cannabis use on the mother: women who tested positive for THC will seek prenatal care very late, which can have an indirect harmful effect on the health of the baby.

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