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Breast Feeding

Cocaine use before and after birth

05/22/2007

Question:

we just found out our daughter in law was using a large amount of cocaine during her pregnancy. she stated to us a month and a half ago that she had quit. two nights ago the baby had a seizure and was brought to the hospital where she tested positive for cocaine. is it possible that the drug was in her system since birth or has the baby recently been exposed? the baby is only three months old as of yesterday.

Answer:

If your daughter in law stopped using cocaine prior to the delivery, and has not been exposed to the drug since birth, the prenatal cocaine is no longer present in the baby.

Cocaine can remain in the infant's system for 5 to 7 days, or more... but not months.

If your daughter-in-law is breastfeeding and using cocaine, the drug passes readily into breastmilk and can give the infant multiple symptoms, such as choking, vomiting, diarrhea, tremors, irritability, hypertension and sometimes seizures, if breastfed within 15 minutes to 1/2 hour after the maternal exposure. Passive inhalation from environmental cocaine-containing smoke can also occur, and is also dangerous.

For more information:

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Response by:

Jeanne L Ballard, MD, FAAP, FABM Jeanne L Ballard, MD, FAAP, FABM
Professor Emeritus, Pediatrics, Obstetrics and Gynecology
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati