Medications for colitis: Safe while breastfeeding?

I am eight months pregnant and was planning to breastfeed. I have colitis and am taking two drugs which are safe during pregnancy, prednisone and asacol. My doctor tells me I should not breastfeed while on these medications, and I am sure I will have to be on these medicines after the baby is delivered. Are they safe while breastfeeding?

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Debbi Donovan

Debbi Donovan is a Board Certified Lactation Consultant, as well as a retired La Leche League Leader. For more than a decade, Debbi... Read more

Asacol (mesalamine) is commonly prescribed for ulcerative colitis. It reduces inflammation inside the bowel. It is poorly absorbed from the GI tract. Your baby would only receive about one percent of your dosage through breastfeeding (Hale, 2000). The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that this drug should be used with caution by the nursing mother.

Prednisone has been approved by the American Academy of Pediatrics for use by the nursing mother. Long-term, chronic use of this medication in high doses may pose a risk to the infant, however studies show that small limited exposures appear to be safe.

It is very important to discuss the importance of breastfeeding with your Health Care Provider. Be sure to let him know that breastfeeding is very important to you and to your baby-to-be. If he still feels uncomfortable with the use of either of these medications, ask him to discuss the alternatives with you and your baby's pediatrician. Best wishes in mothering!

Reference:

Hale, T. Medications and Mother?s Milk, 2000, Pharmasoft Publishing, Amarillo, (2000) p 426 and 546.

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