Breastfeeding: Information sources

Last updated: Monday, December 11, 2023

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

The UK Drugs in Lactation Advisory Service (UKDILAS) has some online general and drug-specific guidance on how to answer questions about the use of medicines in patients who are breastfeeding. If you have searched the resources you have available to you but are maybe not finding a great deal or information, or need some help with interpreting what you have found then you can contact the service directly. Make sure that you have gathered the relevant information about the mother and the infant beforehand.

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

e-lactancia is a free Spanish website with an English translation provided about the compatibility of medicines with breastfeeding. 

Hale’s Medication in Mothers’ Milk is a helpful place to start for information about most drugs in breastfeeding. This source can be very useful for pharmacokinetic data. It requires a subscription.

Drugs in Pregnancy and Lactation by Briggs et al. may assist you depending upon the nature of the question you're looking into. This is another resource that requires a subscription so you'll need to check if your department has access.

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 OpenAthens

The TRIP database may help you identify whether there is expert guidance on managing patients who wish to breastfeed but who have an acute or chronic medical condition requiring drug treatment (e.g. British Society Rheumatology, British Society of Gastroenterology).

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.