5.2 – The effects of drugs on breast milk, how they may affect an infant and how the risk can be minimised
Many mothers are required to use drugs during breastfeeding. Almost all drugs transfer into breast milk and this may carry a risk to breastfed infants. Factors such as the dose of drug taken and the fat solubility effect how a drug is transmitted to breast milk. The baby's age and weight need to be taken into consideration since smaller babies are more vulnerable.
A small amount of paracetamol is passed through breast milk, it is therefore considered safe for breastfeeding mother's when taken in the recommended doses, this does not mean that it is safe for all babies or that all painkillers are safe, medical advice should be sought from a G.P, midwife, health visitor or lactation consultant
Nicotine Replacement Therapy's (NRTs)
Nicotine taken in any form passes into breast milk and is harmful to the nursing infant. However, for women who are unable to give up smoking without a smoking cessation aid, NRT may deliver less nicotine (and none of the other potentially disease-causing agents) than would be obtained from cigarettes. It is also less hazardous than the second-hand smoke that the infant would be exposed to if the mother continued to smoke. The amount of nicotine that gets into breast milk is probably similar whether the mother smokes or uses NRT. Breastfeeding within one hour of smoking or taking an NRT product can significantly increase the levels of nicotine in breast milk. Therefore, NRT products that are taken intermittently are probably best if NRT is used during breastfeeding. Avoid using the NRT for at least one hour before breastfeeding.
Hay fever medication – antihistamine
Since small amounts of antihistamines are able to pass into the breast milk, use is not recommended in breastfeeding women. Babies are the most susceptible to side effects from the medication. Also, antihistamines tend to decrease secretions in...