Study explores how cannabis use affects breast milk and lactation

Trending 1 week ago

In a caller study published successful Advances successful Nutrition, researchers explored nan effect of cannabis usage during gestation and lactation. More specifically, they examined nan effects of cannabinoids connected lipid metabolism successful nan bosom insubstantial and hormone receptors that modulate bosom beverage secretion and production.

 Dmytro Tyshchenko / Study: Maternal cannabis usage during lactation and imaginable effects connected quality beverage creation and production: a communicative review. Image Credit: Dmytro Tyshchenko /

Cannabis use

Cannabis aliases marijuana is utilized by complete 200 cardinal group worldwide. Recently, cannabis usage has been legalized for some medicinal and recreational purposes successful galore regions of nan United States, arsenic good arsenic different countries. Current estimates bespeak that up to 20% of Americans usage cannabis, which is simply a important summation from 2021 estimates of 6%, pinch astir 33% of young adults betwixt 18 and 25 years of property reported to beryllium users.

The types and potency of presently disposable cannabis products person besides increased. While Δ-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), nan superior psychoactive cannabinoid successful cannabis, is coming successful dried cannabis flowers, nan astir communal shape successful which cannabis has been smoked successful nan past, processed products are now wide available.

These processed products see hash, resin, kief (inhaled forms), shatter aliases wax (inhaled), liquid concentrates and dried herb (for vaping), concentrates infused into edibles for illustration cookies and candies, drinks, aliases capsules, aliases into ointments, lotions, tegument patches, and gels. Suppositories are besides being sold.

The THC contented of cannabis products has besides accrued by complete 10%. Likewise, high-dose cannabis flowers exceeding 20% THC by weight person been sold astatine 50% higher volumes successful 1 U.S. authorities successful 2016 arsenic compared to 2014. The waste of cannabis extracts containing triple nan potency of THC than successful flowers has besides increased.

Cannabis successful reproductive-age women

The prevalence of cannabis usage during nan past period reported among pregnant women successful a 2014 National Survey connected Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) accrued by complete 62% arsenic compared to 2002, albeit astatine a very debased frequency.

About 42% of North American cannabis users are women. The usage of cannabis among pregnant women doubled from 3.5% to 7% successful 2017 and 2002, respectively, pinch nan highest usage reported during nan first trimester. About 4% of breastfeeding women were presently utilizing cannabis.

Fewer women of reproductive property judge that cannabis usage is dangerous, pinch galore considering it medicinal, much effective, and little toxic than galore medications, medicine aliases otherwise, for greeting sickness. Lactating women often mention conditions for illustration anxiety, depression, nausea, nonaccomplishment of appetite, chronic pain, and posttraumatic accent upset arsenic reasons for their cannabis use.

The fetus is exposed to maternally absorbed cannabis and its metabolites. Previous studies person shown a nonaccomplishment of verbal aptitude, attention, and short-term representation successful fetuses exposed to cannabis in utero.

Cannabinoids successful quality milk

The effects of maternal cannabis usage connected lactation and nan babe stay mostly unknown. Cannabinoids look successful humor astir quickly aft THC inhalation, alternatively than ingestion, astatine 2 to 10 minutes arsenic compared to 1 hour, respectively.

Between 10-50% of full inhaled THC enters nan plasma, astir of which is bound to low-density lipoproteins (LDL) and reaches fat cells successful aggregate parts of nan body. The mini molecular weight of THC besides allows it to participate and ore wrong fatty tissue, wherein it whitethorn accumulate astatine up to 104 times nan plasma concentration.

The effect of assemblage composition, which changes markedly during gestation and lactation, connected circulating THC remains to beryllium established.

The attraction of cannabinoids wrong beverage varies pinch nan clip postpartum. During early lactation, narcotics and proteins move easy from nan humor into nan beverage done gaps betwixt loosely packed epithelial cells. These gaps yet constrictive and utilize facilitated aliases passive diffusion to transportation molecules.

THC cannot return from beverage into nan maternal blood, frankincense starring to its sevenfold higher attraction successful beverage arsenic compared to blood. Cannabis metabolites are stored wrong fat insubstantial and are slow released during lactation into nan milk.

THC is yet metabolized successful nan liver into psychoactive metabolites for illustration 11-OH-THC. The plasma levels of these molecules are higher than that of THC aft smoking cannabis. However, some THC and its byproducts are surgery down aliases inactivated, pinch only 6-7% of nan ingested dose disposable to nan body.

Most ingested cannabinoids yet time off nan assemblage done feces, pinch astir 20% being excreted done urine. The mean excretion clip is 19 days.

Cannabinoids and bosom epithelial cells

Several cannabinoid receptors beryllium successful nan endocannabinoid system (ECS), including nan cardinal tense system, peripheral tissues/organs, and immune cells. Mammary epithelial cells (MECs) besides incorporate cannabinoid receptors CB1R and CB2R, though astatine overmuch little concentrations than successful cancerous cells.

Other receptors see CNR1 and CNR2 genes and peroxisome proliferator-activated receptors (PPARs). The second regulates nan transcription of target genes, which origin changes successful cannabinoid metabolism and activate different cellular pathways. PPARA and PPARG are recovered astatine precocious levels successful fat insubstantial and mean levels successful bosom tissue, including MECs.

Several different membrane transmission proteins tin besides carrier cannabinoids crossed nan compartment membrane. Human mammary organoid investigation whitethorn beryllium perfect to find nan effects of cannabinoids connected mammary function.

Cannabinoids and beverage composition

PPARγ look rises successful mammary insubstantial during lactation, thereby expanding lipid metabolism. The endocannabinoid AEA stimulates CB1R and PPARγ, yet expanding lipoprotein lipase activity. Prior investigation suggests that cannabinoids alteration quality beverage composition; however, nary in vivo aliases objective studies person corroborated this report.

Cannabinoids and beverage production

Cannabinoids whitethorn initially summation prolactin (PRL) secretion done CB1R activation successful nan pituitary gland wrong nan encephalon and yet trim PRL levels done dopamine release. Some rat investigation has shown that THC reduces PRL levels aft lactation is established.

Human studies person been conflicting; however, immoderate reports bespeak little beverage accumulation and shorter breastfeeding periods successful women who regularly usage cannabis.

Endocannabinoids whitethorn summation nan latency play betwixt suckling and oxytocin merchandise successful rats, which whitethorn inhibit beverage ejection during breastfeeding. Increased dopamine merchandise whitethorn besides inhibit PRL secretion, whereas activation of nan ECS whitethorn beforehand mother-infant bonding.


Cannabis usage leads to nan beingness of cannabinoids successful quality milk, which whitethorn lend to their semipermanent accumulation and inhibit beverage production. Cannabis usage whitethorn besides change bosom beverage creation done its effects connected lipid metabolism.

Substantial investigation is needed utilizing rigorous methods for beverage postulation and accumulation to show immoderate of these imaginable effects.”

Future studies are needed to standardize beverage accumulation measurements, maternal adiposity characteristics, medicine usage, clip of time erstwhile beverage postulation is performed, and clip since nan past breastfeeding convention and guarantee meticulous analysis.

Journal reference:

  • Castro-Navarre, I., Williams, J. E., Holdsworth, E. A., et al. (2024). Maternal cannabis usage during lactation and imaginable effects connected quality beverage creation and production: a communicative review. Advances successful Nutrition. doi:10.1016/j.advnut.2024.100196.