There are many potential negative health effects from using marijuana and other products containing THC during pregnancy and while breastfeeding. In fact, the U.S. Surgeon General recently advised consumers that marijuana use during pregnancy may affect fetal brain development, because THC can enter the fetal brain from the mother’s bloodstream. The Surgeon General also advised that marijuana may increase the risk of a newborn with low birth weight. Research also suggests increased risk for premature birth and potentially stillbirth 1 .
We especially want to learn more about the effects of CBD during pregnancy and while breastfeeding, including, for example, whether and to what extent the presence of CBD in human milk harms the breastfed baby or the mother’s milk production.
What do we know about the effects of marijuana use during pregnancy and while breastfeeding?
There is no comprehensive research studying the effects of CBD on the developing fetus, pregnant mother, or breastfed baby. FDA is continuing to collect and study the data on the possible harmful effects of CBD during pregnancy and while breastfeeding. However, based on what we do know, there is significant cause for concern.
FDA recently completed an evaluation of some hemp seed-derived food ingredients and had no objections to the use of these ingredients in foods. THC and CBD are found mainly in hemp flowers, leaves, and stems, not in hemp seeds. Hemp seeds can pick up miniscule amounts of THC and CBD from contact with other plant parts, but these amounts are low enough to not raise concerns for any group, including pregnant or breastfeeding mothers.
We are now seeing CBD-containing products everywhere. CBD can be found in many different products, like drugs, foods, products marketed as dietary supplements, and cosmetics. These products often make questionable health promises about CBD.
Schneider, Miriam. “ Cannabis use in pregnancy and early life and its consequences: animal models. ” European Archives of Psychiatry and Clinical Neuroscience, July 2, 2009. Accessed June 25, 2020.
There is a lack of conclusive data to determine the effects of CBD hemp oil on a fetus. To avoid the potential risks on human babies, the few studies conducted on this subject have been on animals.
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IS CBD Safe for Pregnant Women?
If you are wondering if you can take CBD oil while pregnant, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) strongly advises against taking CBD while pregnant or breastfeeding. There does not yet exist a strong body of research around CBD during pregnancy. Taking CBD while pregnant can pose some harmful risks for babies in the womb. Until the FDA can study more data and answer questions surrounding CBD products and their effects on pregnant and nursing mothers, taking CBD is not recommended.
In another study conducted on pregnant mice, CBD doses led to reproductive problems for male fetuses throughout their lives. It is important to note that the results of animal studies may not be transferable to human subjects, so more research is needed.
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FDA 2019. What you should know about using cannabis, including CBD, when pregnant or breastfeeding. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. https://www.fda.gov/consumers/consumer-updates/what-you-should-know-about-using-cannabis-including-cbd-when-pregnant-or-breastfeeding [Accessed May 2021]
CBD may interact with other medications, such as blood thinners, and potentially cause serious side effects. Other possible side effects of using CBD include:
We don’t know if CBD oil is safe during pregnancy, so experts say to avoid it. Here’s what some leading groups say:
Is CBD oil safe during pregnancy?
Stohs SJ et al. 2020. Is cannabidiol hepatotoxic or hepatoprotective: A review. Sage Journal. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/2397847320922944 [Accessed May 2021]
CBD products aren’t well regulated. They can be contaminated with substances that aren’t safe for a fetus, including THC, pesticides, heavy metals, bacteria, and fungus.
Most experts recommend avoiding CBD while pregnant or breastfeeding. We don’t know enough about CBD oil to conclude that it’s safe or effective for a pregnant mom and her developing baby – or for a breastfeeding mom and her nursing baby. Because CBD isn’t regulated by the FDA, there are serious questions about product quality, too. CBD products may be contaminated with THC and other substances, and there are no good guidelines for dosing.
Most CBD oil is made from hemp plants. (While it’s sometimes labeled hemp oil or CBD hemp oil, CBD oil not the same thing as hemp seed oil.) Oil made from marijuana varieties of the cannabis plant is called cannabis oil, and it’ll contain some THC as well as CBD and other compounds.