Is It Safe To Take Amoxicillin While Breastfeeding?

Amoxicillin While Breastfeeding

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Amoxicillin is an essential medicine, as categorized by the World Health Organization (1). The antibiotic is used for multiple health complaints from the skin to urinary tract infections and mastitis.

Mastitis or inflammation of the breast is a common problem in breastfeeding women. But can such women use amoxicillin? Some medicines pass through the bloodstream of a woman and mix in the breast milk that the little one feeds on. But does amoxicillin fall under that harmful category?

This MomJunction post answers all the questions about amoxicillin’s safety and its effects on the baby’s health.

What Is Amoxicillin?

Amoxicillin, also spelled as amoxycillin, is an antibiotic made from penicillin. It is either used alone or in combination with clavulanic acid and is taken in various forms including tablets, powder, and syrup.

It is mainly prescribed for the treatment of infections such as strep throat, pharyngitis and tonsillitis caused by the streptococcus bacteria, and other bacterial infections like pneumonia and UTI. In the breastfeeding mothers, amoxicillin is also prescribed for mastitis (2).

Does Amoxicillin Pass Through Breast Milk?

Amoxicillin passes into the breast milk just like any other chemical compound present in the mother’s bloodstream. The peak level of amoxicillin in breast milk is found between four and six hours after a single dose of 1g consumed by the mother. The amount of drug present in the breast milk can vary depending on the woman’s body. The average levels of amoxicillin usually found in the breast milk are 0.5 mg/ml at four hours, 0.81mg/ml at five hours, and 1.64 mg/ml at six hours (3).

[ Read: Is It Safe To Take Antibiotics While Breastfeeding ]

Is Amoxicillin Safe While Breastfeeding?

Amoxicillin is considered safe for breastfeeding mothers by the American Academy of Paediatrics, and research shows no change in the health of the nursing infant when the mother is on a dosage (4). The medicine is counted among the safest antibiotics for a lactating mother (5). However, it is not entirely free of potential side effects, just like other medications.

Side Effects Of Amoxicillin In Breastfed Babies

Though the side effects of amoxicillin are not widespread and have a low probability of occurrence, it is useful to know how a baby could be affected by the drug:

  • Diarrhea
  • Bloody stools
  • Skin hives
  • Constant sleepiness or drowsiness
  • Excessive colic due to stomach pain with general irritability

Interestingly, diarrhea, vomiting, nausea and other side effects are similar to what a mother or any other individual could have on consuming amoxicillin (6). Infants can show other subtle side effects such as a change in feeding and sleeping schedule.

If you observe these side effects in the baby or sense something is wrong, then take him to the doctor. Also, find out from your doctor if you should stop taking amoxicillin. However, it is important to ascertain that these symptoms have appeared only after the mother’s use of amoxicillin.

[ Read: Claritin (Loratadine) While Breastfeeding ]

Why Does Amoxicillin Cause Side effects In Breastfeeding Babies?

The side effects are caused due to the active compound penicillin, which is derived from the Penicillium fungus, a living organic matter. The baby’s immune system may mistake penicillin to be a pathogen and mount an attack, which is manifested through the symptoms like diarrhea and rashes. The immune system develops an antibody for penicillin to attack it effectively the next time, thus resulting in an allergy (7).

Amoxicillin is often combined with a compound called clavulanic acid when made into an oral liquid or a solid tablet. One study has found higher instances of side effects in babies whose mothers consumed a mixture of amoxicillin and clavulanic acid than in those whose mothers were given amoxicillin alone (8). However, there is no conclusive research on the effects of clavulanic acid, and it cannot be said for sure that it is the real reason behind the side effects (9).

Is Amoxicillin Still Safe For A Breastfeeding Baby?

Yes, amoxicillin is safe, even in combination with clavulanic acid, since its side effects on breastfeeding baby are infrequent and not long-lasting. Research has found that the notable side effects in breastfeeding infants are drowsiness and diarrhea, which resolve without medical intervention and do not harm the infant (10). A study, which found isolated incidents of side effects, has concluded that amoxicillin is safe for lactating mothers (11).

Therefore, we conclude that amoxicillin is safe for breastfeeding babies. Amoxicillin is considered a safe option for infants with upper respiratory tract infections, with or without Clavulanic acid. No matter how safe a medicine is, you should never take it without a doctor’s prescription.

And when you are taking the drug, you can take some measures to mitigate the risk of side effects on the breastfeeding infant.

[ Read: Wellbutrin (Buproprion) While Breastfeeding ]

How To Mitigate The Risk Of Amoxicillin Side Effects In Babies?

Make sure that the chances of side effects are zero. Follow these measures:

  1. Tell your doctor that you are breastfeeding: It should be the first thing you tell the doctor when he writes any medicines. The doctor may ask about the age of the baby, frequency of breastfeeding, and if the baby has any history of antibiotic or food allergies. He can then prescribe you a formulation and dosage of amoxicillin, which is least likely to cause side effects in the baby.
  1. Do not overdose: Stick to the dose recommended by the doctor and do not overdose, especially the liquid form of amoxicillin (generally prescribed for infants) as you may accidentally pour out extra. Always use the measuring cap provided with the bottle of the medicine to measure the dosage and never use teaspoon/tablespoon for measurement.
  1. Feed the baby before the dose: Amoxicillin is safe, but you can be extra cautious by breastfeeding the baby before you take the dose. This arrangement is suitable when you have a single dose of amoxicillin a day. Discuss the management of dosage intervals and feeding schedule with your doctor to minimize the risk of side effects on the baby.
  1. Switch to formula milk: If allergies in your baby make you nervous, then go for formula milk during your treatment. But note that formula milk can also cause severe allergies in some infants. If the baby is older than 12 months, then cow milk can be a good substitute in combination with other nutritious solid food.

A mother must continue the schedule of her amoxicillin dosage since a healthy mom means a healthy baby! Staying on course with the treatment and being watchful of any symptoms of side effects in your baby is all that you need if you are on amoxicillin when breastfeeding.

Have something to share about amoxicillin and breastfeeding? You can leave us a comment in the section below.

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Rohit Garoo

Rohit Garoo took writing as a profession right after finishing his MBA in Marketing. Earlier he graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Botany & Zoology from the autonomous St. Xavier’s College in Mumbai. Rohit has also done a Stanford University certification course on breastfeeding. This botanist-zoologist turned writer excels at life sciences, and at MomJunction he writes everything about pediatrics and maternal care. In between writing and being overly curious, he spends time cooking, reading, and playing video games. LinkedIn profile –
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