For those of us suffering from allergies this season (and there seem to be many!), we wanted to offer a word of caution about some over-the-counter allergy medications and their effect on milk supply.
Dr. Thomas Hale’s Medications and Mothers’ Milk is the most comprehensive source of information on medications and breastfeeding, and it contains an appendix devoted to over-the-counter allergy and cold remedies. (You can purchase his book or app, but you also have access to the same information for free by calling Dr. Hale’s Infant Risk Center!).
One of the most common ingredients in the listed allergy medicataions is pseudoephedrine. It’s contained in a number of Claritin, Benadryl, Advil and Actifed allergy products.
For products containing pseudoephedrine, Dr. Hale has written: “Probably safe, may suppress milk supply.” More specifically, Dr. Hale writes: In a study of eight lactating women who received a single 60 mg dose of pseudoephedrine, the 24 hour milk production was reduced by 24%...While these results are preliminary, it is apparent that mothers in late-stage lactation may be more sensitive to pseudoephedrine and have greater loss in milk production. Diphenhydramine is another common ingredient, and while Dr. Hale doesn’t note any concern about its effect on milk supply, he does write “observe for sedation” (in the baby).
A less common ingredient is phenylephrine. Dr. Hale’s assessment: “Because of pseudoephedrine’s effect on milk production, concerns that phenylephrine may suppress milk production, have not been confirmed yet. There is no evidence that this occurs at all.” He does not list “may suppress milk supply” in the Appendix for products containing this ingredient.
We hope you make it through allergy season in one piece! And don’t forget to call the Infant Risk Center for free information about your allergy medications and breastfeeding.
* This post is provided for educational purposes only. Please consult your health care provider for care related to this topic.