Thursday, April 22, 2010

Drugs & Herbs while breastfeeding: case

Has it really been 4 months since my last post?! I've been busy training my new assistant who will be handling the suddenly large volume of pamphlet orders and working with me to develop a new and improved classification system so that pamphlets are easier to find. Referrals have been steadily coming in and I am busy fielding requests in the teaching rooms. Our next challenge is to see how I can support the patient education needs of the walk-in centre or Clinique réseau intégré universitaire...


A question I got recently was from a woman in her thirties who wanted to be able to find out which medications are safe to take while breastfeeding. Her question was specifically about non-prescription medications, for example those she might take for allergies, colds or stomach upset. She also wanted to know whether certain herbal supplements are safe while breastfeeding.



There are a few places I told here she could look that have reliable and freely accessible information about the effect of medications on breast milk NB these resources are American. Use the generic drug name as brand names can be different in Canada and the US:

Lactmed (from the National Library of Medicine- NLM)
A peer-reviewed and fully referenced database of drugs to which breastfeeding mothers may be exposed. Among the data included are maternal and infant levels of drugs, possible effects on breastfed infants and on lactation, and alternate drugs to consider.
The MedlinePlus Drugs, Supplements, and Herbal Information
is available from the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP) via AHFS® Consumer Medication Information , and Natural Standard.
  • AHFS® Consumer Medication Information provides extensive information about more than 1,000 brand name and generic prescription and over-the-counter drugs, including side effects, precautions and storage for each drug.
  • Natural Standard is an evidence-based, peer-reviewed collection of information on alternative treatments. MedlinePlus has over 80 monographs on herbs and supplements.
Search this database by drug. At the bottom of each description you will find a link to pregnancy and breastfeeding warnings. This is also a good place to search for interactions between drugs, and for detailed information about side effects.

Herbs & supplements

To find information about the safety of herbal supplements while breastfeeding I again recommended the MedlinePlus Drugs, Supplements, and Herbal Information. I also suggested that she speak to her physician, nurse and/or pharmacist before taking anything.