Breastfeeding: Information sources

Last updated: Monday, March 14, 2016

There are many potential sources for clinical questions about breastfeeding; here are some recommended examples:

UKMi offers advice about the safety of medicines in breastfeeding, including many Medicines Q&As, on the SPS website. Type the name of a medicine into the search engine and select it from the drop down list, then scroll down to the bottom of the page to look at the 'Lactation Safety Information' section.

Hale’s Medication in Mothers’ Milk is a helpful place to start for most information about most drugs in breastfeeding. It is available online, but you need a subscription to access it. Ask your MI manager for details. This source can be very useful for pharmacokinetic data.

LactMed is the Drugs and Lactation Database. It is a helpful, free, online resource produced by the National Library of Medicine in the US.

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Drugs in Pregnancy and Lactation by Briggs et al may assist you, depending upon the nature of the question you're looking into. It is available online via the publisher and in a paper format, although the online version is more up-to-date. The book Drugs During Pregnancy and Lactation by Schaefer et al is also very useful. Ask your MI pharmacist about access to both these resources. 

SPCs have variable content and often make statements based on legal concerns rather than evidence, but manufacturer’s medical information departments can be helpful.

Choose your search terms carefully in Embase and Medline – you can use the term ‘breast feeding’ in both databases, but Embase uses ‘breast milk’ while Medline prefers ‘milk, human’. In England, most NHS sites access these databases via Athens. Your library or MI pharmacist will show you how to log in.

Be careful about conducting a general internet search on this subject. If you do, you may like to look at our brief guide to evaluating websites about medicines.

Presenting your answer 

Once you’ve asked sufficient questions, gathered the information required and assessed it, you’ll need to provide an answer. As a reminder, we offer some general guidance on answering clinical problems. You might like to refresh your memory if you’ve not looked at this recently.