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Breast Feeding

Allergy-relief Drugs & Breast Feeding

03/27/2000

Question:

Truly suffered from allergies and not able to rest or sleep well, I do not want to, but have to seek medical help. Which allergy-relief medicine is better to take? Is Claritin safe( my family doctor says Ok, but the lable on the box says No)? My baby is four month old, and I would like to continue brestfeeding her. I have great concern about her health and need more information to weight the pros & cons of taking any medication. Thank you!

Answer:

Whenever a mother has to take a medication, it is important to weigh the risks to the infant of possible exposure to a medication with the known health-related benefits of mother`s own milk. Almost always it is in a baby`s best interests to continue receiving breast milk. Also, there usually are alternatives when a particular medication would not be appropriate during breastfeeding. (For more information about considerations when taking medication while breastfeeding, check recent NetWellness questions and responses.)

According to Hale (1999a & b), most physicians prefer a mother take one of the newer non-sedating antihistamines when breastfeeding. Claritin (loratidine) and cetirizine (Zyrtec) are among this group. Early studies looking at the amount of Claritin in breast milk indicate a newborn infant would receive less than one-half percent of the mother`s dose. Although no pediatric concerns have been reported, it is suggested that an infant be watched for sedation (excessive drowsiness or sluggishness), dry mouth or tachycardia (fast heartbeat).

If you still have questions, you may want to discuss taking the medication with your daughter`s pediatric care provider, and you may want to check with your pharmacist about possible interactions if you currently take other medication.

All the best to you and your daughter!

References:

Hale, T W (1999a). Medications in mothers` milk (8th ed.). Amarillo, TX: Pharmasoft Medical Publishing.

Hale, TW (1999b). Clinical therapy in breastfeeding patients. Amarillo, TX: Pharmasoft Medical Publishing.

For more information:

Go to the Breast Feeding health topic, where you can:

Response by:

Karen Kerkhoff Gromada, MSN, RN, IBCLC
Adjunct Clinical Instructor
College of Nursing
University of Cincinnati