For years, doctors and nursing mothers have struggled with the question of what medications are safe to take while a mother is breast feeding. Few mothers are willing to enter case studies when the health of their infant could be at stake. However, the American Academy of Pediatricians and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration have officially released a report saying most medications and vaccinations will not affect breast milk.

Breast milk impacts health and development

Along with their new report, the AAP and FDA are proposing changes to medication labels changing the “nursing mothers” section to say “lactation.” This change will help mothers and doctors find the right information when making decisions about what drugs are safe to take. Breast feeding has long been known to have significant benefits for both mother and baby. Among other things, it impacts an infant’s immune system, IQ, and developmental milestones.

Dr. Hari Cheryl Sachs, a pediatrician and leader of the pediatric and maternal health team at the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, said, “Because we know that breast feeding has both developmental and health benefits for the mom and baby, we are encouraging research in this area so physicians can make informed decisions about how best to treat their patients.

Labels changed to reflect existing science

Lactation consultant and spokeswoman for La Leche League International, Diana West said of the announcement, “The general takeaway message—that most drugs are compatible with breast feeding, that mothers don’t have to wean to take drugs and that the labels should accurately reflect the science—is really great news and progress for breast feeding mothers.”

Blanket statement called into question

Before now, drug companies mostly just issued blanket statements saying pregnant and lactating women should not consume any of their products. However, Thomas Hale, director of the InfantRisk Center at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, said mostly this just meant drug companies hadn’t bothered to do their homework. For instance, Zoloft contains the same blanket statement, but a study of 60 breast feeding mothers showed almost no transfer of the substance to the breast milk. He added, “We now know that the risk of untreated depression is far, far worse than the risk of taking a drug.”

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Source: Most Medications OK During Breast-Feeding, Report Says: MedlinePlus