Advisory service on use of medication during breastfeeding
For mothers who wish to breastfeed their babies, it is essential to risk assess the possible adverse effects that any medication taken by the mother may have on the baby. The NHS provides an online service for clinical staff known as the UK Drugs in Lactation Advisory Service. General advice includes:
- Avoid unnecessary drug use.
- Assess the benefit/risk ratio for both mother and infant.
- Avoid use of drugs known to cause serious toxicity in adults or children.
- Drugs licensed for use in infants do not generally pose a hazard.
- Neonates (and particularly premature infants) are at greater risk from exposure to drugs.
- Choose a regimen to minimise the amount of drug to the infant.
- Avoid long-acting preparations, especially those of drugs likely to cause serious side effects.
- Try to time feeds to avoid significant amounts of drug in breast milk.
- Multiple drug regimens may pose an increased risk.
- Infants exposed to drugs via breast milk should be monitored for unusual signs or symptoms.
- Avoid new drugs if a therapeutically equivalent alternative that has been more widely used is available.
The online database includes all drugs in the BNF, and a search can be carried out by simply typing the drug name on the Drugs in Lactation webpage.
Further advice can be obtained from the Ashtons medical information pharmacist.
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