UMEM Educational Pearls

Category: Toxicology

Title: Maternal Opioid Use and Breast-Fed Infants

Keywords: Opioid, breastfeeding, breast milk, newborn, infant (PubMed Search)

Posted: 4/5/2012 by Bryan Hayes, PharmD (Emailed: 4/12/2012) (Updated: 4/12/2012)
Click here to contact Bryan Hayes, PharmD

Over the last few decades, the rate of breastfeeding has increased steadily in the developed countries of the world. During this time, opioid  use in the general population has steadily increased as well. Despite this, clinicians remain unclear whether opioid use is safe during breastfeeding.

A recent article reviewed the production of breast milk, the transfer of xenobiotics from blood to milk, the characteristics that alter xenobiotic breast-milk concentrations, and the evidence of specific common opioids and infant toxicity.
Conclusion: The short-term maternal use of prescription opioids is usually safe and infrequently presents a hazard to the newborn.
Bonus app suggestion:
Continuing with the theme of the week, here is a nifty, free tox app for the iPhone called Emergency Toxicology. It is rudimentary and pretty basic, but it is a good starting tool.
iPhone Screenshot 1


Hendrickson RG, McKeown NJ. Is maternal opiod use hazardous to breast-fed infants? Clin Toxicol. 2012;59(1):1-14.

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