Medications and breastfeeding: what are the risks?

Because many drugs pass into breast milk and can harm a baby, their use should be limited. What are the risks ? What precautions should be taken in case of compulsory treatment? The answers of Dr Véronique Beaudoux, obstetrician-gynecologist at the University Hospital of Angers.

  Medications and breastfeeding: what are the risks?

Throughout pregnancy, many medications are not recommended or even contraindicated for expectant mothers. A principle that endures after childbirth for those who decide to breastfeed. And for good reason, if breast milk provides immune protection to the baby thanks to antibodies, it also allows substances ingested by the mother to pass. (alcohol, tobacco, drugs). These are found in milk and can be harmful to the child. So how do you treat yourself while breastfeeding? Which medications are allowed and which should absolutely be avoided?

What Medications Are Allowed While Breastfeeding?

Whether a drug is allowed during lactation depends on how much of the drug passes into breast milk and whether or not it is absorbed by the child . Contrary to what one might think, just because drugs are available over the counter does not mean that they are not dangerous. 'For example, the antihistamines and cold medicines are strictly not recommended for pregnant or breastfeeding women. Antihypertensive drugs, on the other hand, do not seem to impact the child.' , explains Dr. Véronique Beaudoux. In any case, you should consult your doctor before taking any medication. You can also consult the website of CRAT (Reference Center on Teratogenic Agents) which informs about the risks of drugs, vaccines, radiation and addictions during pregnancy and breastfeeding.

Doliprane and breastfeeding, what recommendations?

The data concerning Doliprane during lactation are numerous and reassuring. According to the CRAT (Reference Center on Teratogenic Agents), the amount of paracetamol ingested via milk is low : the child receives up to 4% of the pediatric dose. A figure correlated by a study that ' reports about forty children breastfed by mothers on paracetamol and the use of paracetamol during breast-feeding is very widespread. No noticeable effect is retained.'

Do the drugs pass into breast milk?

' Most drugs pass into breast milk , but in very small quantities. The impact on the infant is therefore minimal. However, some medications can still be harmful to the baby. This is the reason why the self-medication should be avoided for the duration of breastfeeding. In other words, never take medication without medical advice' when breastfeeding, warns the obstetrician-gynecologist.

How long to wait before breastfeeding after taking medication?

It will depend on the drug and its lifespan because it passes into breast milk in greater or lesser concentration. 'When a drug is not recommended during breastfeeding but it is mandatory for the patient, it is advisable to take it immediately after breastfeeding, so that the body has time to eliminate it until 'at the next latch' , develops the specialist.

What are the risks of medications while breastfeeding?

'The major risk of drugs during breastfeeding is the passage into the breast milk which will be ingested by the infant and which can cause reactions in it' , explains our expert. These reactions may be similar to those of the mother eg a hypnotic drug can have a hypnotic effect on the baby and cause drowsiness. Or different, in particular with the taking of antibiotics such as tetracycline which have no effect on the child in the short term, but which can later have consequences on the dental development of the child. ' Other drugs will have a paradoxical effect: antihistamines have sedative effects in the mother but will rather have an exciting action on the baby' , he continues.

Medicines and breastfeeding: what recommendations?

A nursing mother must avoid self-medication at all costs and always seek the advice of her doctor before taking any medication. Medications should be taken away from feedings, so that the body has time to eliminate them before the next breastfeed. 'In the event of a chronic pathology, the breastfeeding plan must be assessed with the healthcare professional who will determine whether it is possible to continue the treatment, to adapt it or to contraindicate breastfeeding if the risks are too great for the child', adds Dr Véronique Beaudoux. Finally, remember that even if a treatment has been prescribed by the doctor, it is still necessary to read the instructions!