Cannabinoids in Breast Milk – Should You Worry?


If you’re breastfeeding your new baby you have to worry about what you put into your body. Cannabinoids in your breast milk will happen if you smoke cannabis, but should you worry?

Cannabinoids in breast milk are natural and may be vital for proper human development. According to the European Journal of Pharmacology, breast milk contains endocannabinoids, a specific type of neuromodulatory lipid that basically gives a newborn child “the munchies”, thus aiding growth and development.

Cannabinoids are fat soluble and fat is very abundant in breast milk. This leads to about 0.8% of the THC ingested by the mother to be ingested by the newborn. In animal studies, it’s been shown that marijuana can decrease the amount of milk produced.

Effects of Cannabinoids on Newborns

BreastfeedingIn 1990, a study by Astley and Little suggested that exposure to THC through breast milk in the first month of life could result in decreased motor development at 1 year old. Lethargy, less frequent feeding, and shorter feeding times are other observations reported after babies’ exposure to THC through breast milk.

Because a newborn’s brain is still forming, THC could theoretically affect brain development. Studies have yet to adequately address the effects on long-term neurodevelopment.

Testing for Cannabinoids in Breast Milk

Breastfeeding Cannabinoids in Breast MilkTesting for cannabinoids in breast milk is difficult to do. The most common way of testing for cannabinoids cannot detect cannabinol or cannabidiol and THC can be detected at levels of 1.5 nanograms per milliliter or higher.

A new method to test for cannabinoids in breast involves a process often associated with soap making, saponification. With this approach, you can detect picograms per milliliter of active marijuana compounds, including cannabinol and cannabidiol. This test is 100 times better at detecting THC in milk than previous techniques.

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