Breastfeeding: Information sources

Last updated: Monday, April 08, 2019

There are many potential sources for clinical questions about medicines in mothers who are breastfeeding. 

SPS offers some general advice to help guide your decision-making around the use of medicines in breastfeeding mothers. It also has a wide range of guidance on the topic.

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

Hale’s Medication in Mothers’ Milk is a helpful place to start for information about most drugs in breastfeeding. It is available as a book or you can subscribe online. This source can be very useful for pharmacokinetic data.

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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 useful. 

SmPCs have variable content and often make statements based on legal concerns rather than evidence.

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 a senior 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.