A breastfeeding mom from Portland has made her controversial decision public: The pot-smoking mother, whose newborn was just brought into the world last week, will continue to smoke up. Her decision, made against the wishes of her doctors and caregivers, is now going out to the court of public opinion. While some are supporting her decision to dope up while feeding her tot, others are vilifying the mom and her pseudo-science explanations.
This too -- Her decision to continue to smoke was not even altered by the fact that her infant girl was born eight weeks premature and is currently living in an incubator.
Crystal Cain, a medical marijuana cardholder, has been using cannabis to combat anxiety and nausea, especially during her pregnancy. When she gave birth on August 6 to her baby girl Karrisma at the Oregon Health and Science University, the hospital initially refused to allow her access to her daughter because she intended to breastfeed with marijuana in her system.
Cain, speaking of her daughter’s premature birth, said: “She's going to be OK. They took her off of all of her breathing machines yesterday and they gave her a trial run and they say she's doing absolutely fine.”
Eventually, the hospital turned Karrisma over so that she could be breastfed by her mother, but not before medical staff made Crystal sign off on waivers acknowledging that she was educated about the potential dangers of her choice.
“We had the mom sign a waiver acknowledging the use of marijuana and the potential risks involved in it,” says Dr. Charles Kilo, Oregon Health Science University’s chief medical officer. “We do understand the benefits of mothers' milk. We also don't want to be caught in a situation where a mother continues to use and says that we never gave her information on it, never informed about the risks, and so it's really a way of documenting that the parents acknowledge the risks. And we can't stop her from using it.”
Crystal, on the other hand, believes that there are no risks.
Speaking of marijuana’s main mind-altering ingredient THC, Cain says: “There are several studies that indicate that it doesn't, it can't transfer through your milk ducts.” THC can build up in fat tissue, meaning it will remain in one’s system for weeks. Cain did not go into detail regarding what studies she was referring to.
The question was posed on BabyCenter.com: Is it safe for a breastfeeding mom to smoke marijuana? The answer? Probably not.
While acknowledging that “little research has been done,” the site says that “if you smoke marijuana and breastfeed, the active chemical in marijuana is passed to your baby through your milk. For this reason, most experts, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, advise nursing moms to abstain from marijuana while breastfeeding.”
Drugs.com also comments on cannabis use while breastfeeding and presented a similar caveat and conclusion:
Although published data are limited, it appears that active components of marijuana are excreted into breastmilk in small quantities. Data are from random breastmilk screening rather than controlled studies because of ethical considerations in administering marijuana to nursing mothers.
One long-term study found that daily or near daily use might retard the breastfed infant's motor development, but not growth or intellectual development. This and another study found that occasional maternal marijuana use during breastfeeding did not have any discernible effects on breastfed infants, but the studies were inadequate to rule out all long-term harm.
What are your thoughts on Cain’s choice? Can you offer any insight or support of her unpopular decision to continue to smoke pot? Sound off below.