According to Reuters on Monday, many medications can be used safely by breastfeeding woman. The benefits of breastfeeding outweigh most harms caused by the exposure of medications to babies, a panel of pediatricians said today.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) Committee on Drugs said in a clinical report that mothers may be 'inappropriately advised' to stop taking their medications or to stop breastfeeding, because of the fear that medications will be passed through breast milk and harm infants.
Dr. Hari Cherl Sachs, lead author on the report, said 'sometimes people are told that, because physicians may be worried the risks the drug may pose ... and aren't necessarily thinking about the potential benefit of breastfeeding.'
Benefits of breastfeeding include a lower risk of ear infections, asthma, and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Sachs said 'it's hard to make a blanket recommendation on what drugs are fine for the mother, because it's going to depend on multiple factors.' Properties of the drug itself, long or short term use, and age and health of the infant are help determine whether the drug is safe to take while breastfeeding. 'It's always a risk-benefit decision.'
Sachs and her colleagues say women seeking information on specific medicines should talk with their doctors as well as visit the National Institutes of Health-run website, LactMed.
LactMed includes the most up-to-date scientific knowledge on how much of a drug is passed to an infant while breastfeeding, its effects on the baby, and possible alternatives to consider.
The report published Monday focused on antidepressants, narcotics, and smoking cessation aids.
Limited information is available on the long-term effects of antidepressants on babies. The report said it could take the drug a long time to break down and levels could build up in the infants' bodies.
Powerful painkillers such as codeine and hydrocodone are cautioned. Other painkillers including morphine are considered safer when used at the lowest possible dose and used in the shortest time possible.
Gum and lozenge nicotine replacement therapy is typically considered safe to use while breastfeeding, but the FDA discourages against the use of varenicline, Chantix.
Breastfeeding mothers should tell their doctors about any medications they are taking including over the counter and herbal medications.
The risk of exposure to any drug for babies needs to be weighed against the drug's importance for the mother as well as the benefits of breastfeeding, researchers noted.
©2013 Jeri Ruhlig. All Rights Reserved.