What are the risks of breastfeeding?


Breastfeeding risks primarily involve the transfer of substances from the mother to the infant through breast milk. Specifically:

  • Cannabis: THC from cannabis can transfer into breast milk and is detectable up to six days after use. Exposure to THC via breast milk is linked to decreased motor development in infants at one year of age. Women should exercise caution with substances such as cannabis while breastfeeding to avoid potential risks to the infant 1.

  • Social Drugs (Alcohol, Nicotine, Caffeine): Alcohol, nicotine, and caffeine can also be transferred to an infant through breast milk. High alcohol intake, for instance, can lead to altered sleep patterns, decreased milk intake, weight gain, and impaired motor development in infants. Similarly, nicotine in breast milk can affect infant respiratory function and the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). These substances carry potential risks, and mothers are advised to mitigate their use 2 3.

    Breastfeeding Risks

    Rhonda discusses the risks associated with breastfeeding while using cannabis and how THC can transfer to a mother's milk, potentially affecting infant motor development. She advises caution when using common social drugs while breastfeeding.

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    The Biology of Breast Milk
  • Heavy Metals: Harmful substances like heavy metals (e.g., cadmium) can also transfer from the mother's blood into her breast milk, impacting the metabolism of essential nutrients necessary for infant development 4.

Women who require prescription drugs, especially those used to treat serious conditions like cancer, or consume social drugs, should discuss with healthcare providers about the safety of continuing to breastfeed. They should also consider the potential transfer of substances into breast milk that might not be efficiently metabolized by the infant.