Medicines for breastfeeding women: a postal survey of general practitioners in Victoria

Lisa H Amir and Marie V Pirotta
Med J Aust 2009; 191 (2): . || doi: 10.5694/j.1326-5377.2009.tb02712.x
Published online: 20 July 2009

To the Editor: Although many medicines transfer into breast milk, the amount received by the breastfed infant is usually low, with minimal risk to the infant.1 Because medicines are not tested on breastfeeding women, product information often states that the safety of use during lactation is unknown. This may lead to over-caution in prescribers, who may incorrectly advise women to stop breastfeeding during courses of medication.2 Even brief interruptions to breastfeeding can lead to complications, such as mastitis or breast refusal.1,2

  • 1 Mother and Child Health Research, La Trobe University, Melbourne, VIC.
  • 2 Primary Care Research Unit, Department of General Practice, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, VIC.



This study was supported by a grant of $5000 from the Faculty of Health Sciences, La Trobe University. We thank the other members of the research team: Swee Wong (Director, Pharmacy Department, RWH, Melbourne); and Jeanne Daly and Hiranya Jayawickrama (Mother and Child Health Research, La Trobe University).

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  • 3. Amir LH. Medicines and breastfeeding: information is available on safe use [letter]. Med J Aust 2007; 186: 485. <MJA full text>
  • 4. Pharmacy Department, Royal Women’s Hospital, Melbourne. Drugs and breastfeeding. Melbourne: RWH, 2004.
  • 5. MIMS database issue May 2009 [electronic database]. (accessed Jun 2009; subscription required).
  • 6. Akus M, Bartick M. Lactation safety recommendations and reliability compared in 10 medication resources. Ann Pharmacother 2007; 41: 1352-1360.
  • 7. Lagoy CT, Joshi N, Cragan JD, Rasmussen SA. Medication use during pregnancy and lactation: an urgent call for public health action. J Womens Health (Larchmt) 2005; 14: 104-109.


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