Breastfeeding mothers can safely take most medications without harming their infants, HealthDay News reported.
Most drugs contain blanket legal warnings cautioning mothers against taking any medications while nursing, due to a lack of research on how different drugs transfer to breast milk.
Now, the American Academy of Pediatrics is collaborating with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to encourage more research into how medications affect breast milk. The organizations are also urging doctors to communicate more openly with mothers about the pros and cons of taking medication while breastfeeding.
"Because we know that breastfeeding has both developmental and health benefits for the mom and the baby, we are encouraging research in this area so physicians can make informed decisions about how best to treat their patients," study author Dr. Hari Cheryl Sachs, a pediatrician and leader of the pediatric and maternal health team within the FDA's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, told HealthDay News.
In a paper published in the journal Pediatrics, researchers proposed making changes to drug labels, such as replacing the “Nursing Mothers" section with the heading "Lactation” and offering more details on each drug’s ability to transfer to breast milk.
"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 breastfeeding mothers," Diana West, a lactation consultant and spokesperson for La Leche League International, told HealthDay News.
For breastfeeding mothers who want more information on specific drugs, researchers said they should consult with their doctors, or refer to LactMed, a database of information on the transfer of drugs to breast milk maintained by the U.S. National Library of Medicine.