Most Drugs Safe for Breastfeeding Women, Pediatricians Say
Women who are breastfeeding are often warned time and time again to avoid certain medications at all costs as it may endanger their child. However, a panel of pediatricians said Monday many medications are safe enough to be used while a woman is lactating.
In a clinical report in the September issue of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) Committee on Drugs said mothers may be "inappropriately advised" to stop breastfeeding or to stop taking their medications, for fear the drugs will be passed through breast milk and harm infants.
The report "is really an affirmation of current thinking," said primary author Hari Cheryl Sachs, a pediatric and maternal health expert at the Food and Drug Administration. However, it reflects more comprehensive information than was available when the AAP last issued a position on the issue in 2001, advising at the time that in many cases stopping breast-feeding may not be warranted.
"Before assuming that you need to stop breast-feeding, there may be information that lets you know whether that really is advisable," Dr. Sachs said.
The "Nursing Mothers" section that often simply advised caution or discontinuation of breastfeeding or the drug, depending on importance to the mother, would be replaced with a section called "Lactation." This will summarize what is known about drug secretion in milk and potential effects on the infant, what can be done to minimize infant exposure, and how to monitor for adverse effects.
"This is a long-awaited statement," said Ruth Lawrence, a breast-feeding expert at the University of Rochester Medical Center in Rochester, N.Y., who wasn't involved in the report, according to the Wall Street Journal. "The tendency among practitioners is to say, 'I don't know the answer, therefore why don't you stop breast-feeding,' " she said. "There are very few drugs that are contraindicated while breast-feeding."
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