Mothers who are breastfeeding their infants should not use illicit drugs.
This includes marijuana, cocaine, heroin, phencyclidine (PCP),
amphetamines, excessive alcohol, and other drugs of abuse.
- All these drugs can cross into breast milk in varying
amounts and be transferred to the infant.
- Mothers who use these drugs may impair their own ability
to care for their infants.
- There is little data on the effect of some of these drugs on the infant.
- During pregnancy and soon after the birth of a baby,
mothers are often able to change habits for the good,
such as modifying their diet, stopping smoking and
stopping the use of illicit drugs or excessive alcohol.
- In one project, mothers were interviewed prenatally and post-partum for
history of illicit drug use and tested for illicit drug use at delivery by
Mothers who were planning to breast feed their infants
had decreased the use of cocaine and marijuana as documented by toxicologic
screen at birth as compared to mothers intending to feed their infants formula
- Women who had a positive toxicology screen for any of the above named
drugs were not able to stop the use of these drugs during pregnancy and should not breastfeed.
The Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine has a protocol, Guidelines for Breastfeeding and the Drug-Dependent Woman.
It recommends that mothers who:
should be supported in their decision to breastfeed (
ABM Drug Dependent Woman, 2009
- have abstained from the use of illicit drugs for 90 days before delivery,
- are enrolled, active, and planning to continue in a substance abuse treatment program,
- have a negative drug screen at delivery,
- have received consistent prenatal care, and
- have no other contraindications to breastfeeding,