Is It Safe To Take Prednisone While Breastfeeding?

✔ Research-backed

Prednisone is an immunosuppressantiDrugs that reduce and control the body’s immune response and prevent it from attacking its cells or tissues. drug used to treat various ailments. However, it’s uncertain whether you can take Prednisone while breastfeeding.

Usually, if you have a fever or upset stomach, you might wait for these conditions to resolve on their own because taking medications while breastfeeding is not recommended. However, if you have a painful immune system-related disease during lactation, you may wonder about the use of Prednisone.

The National Transplantation Pregnancy Registry in the United States investigated 124 nursing mothers with transplants for 48 months and found no evidence of Prednisone harming the newborn. Is this proof that Prednisone is safe to take during lactation? This post provides an answer to this query and discusses the drug’s effects on lactating mothers.

In This Article

What Is Prednisone?

Prednisone is a glucocorticoidiA class of steroid hormones responsible for essential body functions, involved in the treatment of inflammatory and autoimmune diseases. medication mostly used to suppress the immune system and decrease inflammation in autoimmune disorders and conditions such as allergies, asthma, COPDiChronic obstructive pulmonary disease, a lung disease that constricts the airway leading to coughing and suffocation. , eczema, and rheumatoid diseasesiRelated to conditions affecting the joints, bones, muscles, and ligaments, such as arthritis. . Doctors prescribe prednisone to treat low corticosteroidiA group of steroid hormones produced in the adrenal cortex that are used for treatments in synthetic form to reduce inflammation. levels and ensure optimum functioning of vital body processes.

Moms are usually apprehensive about taking corticosteroid while breastfeeding.

Is Prednisone Safe While Breastfeeding?

There is no scientific evidence to prove that prednisone is unsafe while breastfeeding. In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics classifies prednisone as a drug usually compatible with breastfeeding.

If a nursing mother takes a small dose of prednisone, a negligible quantity of it enters breast milk. And this amount does not harm the baby or affect the mother’s milk production (1).

However, if the mother takes a high dose, then the higher drug content enters the breast milk. It would be at its peak in the mother’s milk at around one hour after its consumption. It is advisable to limit the drug dosage and avoid breastfeeding for four hours after taking medicine. Else, take the medication after nursing the baby for the last time in the day.

protip_icon Point to consider
To reduce infant exposure to maternal medicine overdose, alternate between bottle and breast-feeding or express and discard breast milk when the drug is at its highest concentration (4).

Note: Seek your doctor’s advice before taking any medicine while nursing.

What Is The Safe Dose Of Prednisone While Nursing?

A medical consultant is the right person to prescribe the safe dose of prednisone during the lactation period. He weighs the benefits against the potential risks associated with the drug to prescribe the specified dosage. An overdose or misuse of prednisone may lead to undesirable side-effects.

The initial dosage of prednisone is around 5mg/day, and doctors gradually increase the dosage as per the requirement.

Prednisolone, the active metabolite of prednisone, is secreted in human milk. Various reports suggest that prednisolone concentrations in human milk are 5 to 25% of maternal serum level (2). The percentage of the drug entering the milk depends on several factors and some of them are:

  • Maternal dosage
  • Breastfeeding frequency
  • Maternal metabolism
  • Frequency of prednisone consumption

If your intake is around 40mg every day, the rate of secretion lies between 20 to 106ng/mL. The maternal prednisone dose of less than 20mg/day has no adverse effects while nursing (3).

Prednisone Implications While Nursing

So far, prednisone therapy has not been associated with any short-term or long-term complications in babies. But the mother can develop side effects such as:

  • Risk of developing hypertension
  • Slow healing of wounds
  • Weight gain
Taking Prednisone while breastfeeding can cause weight gain

Image: IStock

  • Increase in blood sugar levels
  • Formation of nodular lesions or acne on the skin
  • Osteopenia or osteoporosisiA condition that causes the weakening of bones due to decreased bone mass and mineral density.
  • Hair loss
 Prednisone while breastfeeding can cause hair loss

Image: IStock

  • Abnormalities in menstrual cycles

Some other common side-effects of prednisone include dizziness, depression, acne, insomnia, stomach upset, and headache.

Medium to large doses of depot corticosteroids injected into the joints may lead to a temporary reduction of milk production.

Dr. Laila Kaikavoosi, a UK-based general practitioner and hormone specialist, says, “Prednisone, a corticosteroid, can potentially disrupt hormonal balance by interfering with the intricate hormonal interplay crucial for lactation. Therefore, women using prednisone while breastfeeding should monitor their milk supply closely under proper medical supervision.”

Researchers have found that the prednisone intake during the 28th to 34th week of gestation might interfere with the secretion of prolactin, thereby delaying the production of breast milk. However, no change was observed in the flow or volume of milk once the lactation begins.

Monitor your little one for signs such as infection, oral thrush, or viral diseases. If you observe any, seek immediate medical guidance and stop consuming the medicine.

Follow the dosage directions and safety warnings given by your physician. Also, take your measures to minimize the drug’s effect on the baby.

How To Minimize The Risk Associated With Prednisone?

Here are a few considerations that you can adopt to reduce the rate of secretion of prednisone in your breast milk:

  • Change the breastfeeding frequency and avoid nursing the baby for at least three-four hours after taking prednisone. You may pump and store the breast milk before taking the medicine, and feed this during the gap.
  • Drink adequate water to ensure optimal metabolite-excretion.
Optimal hydration can reduce Predinose's risks

Image: Shutterstock

  • Avoid the consumption of any other chemicals, synthetic compounds or drugs, as they may interfere with the ongoing medication.
  • Prednisone may increase the risk of developing osteoporosis. Doctors recommend calcium and vitamin D supplements as they regulate the breast milk supply and protect you from the risk of developing osteoporosis.
  • You may consider alternative drugs such as methylprednisolone and prednisolone during breastfeeding.

protip_icon Quick tip
Prednisone can alter salt processing in the body, causing fluid retention. A low-salt diet can help reduce discomfort (5).

Note: Do not take any medicine without a doctor’s prescription.

Natural Ways To Boost Your Immune System While Breastfeeding

Following some simple tips may help boost the natural functioning of your immune system and overall maternal health.

  • Get enough rest to eliminate excess stress.
  • Avoid alcohol and illicit drugs.
Avoiding alcohol strengthens immunity

Image: IStock

  • Catch some sun rays for 10-15 minutes daily.
Timed sun exposure can boost immunity

Image: Shutterstock

  • Indulged in exercising regimes like yoga, walking, and Tai Chi.
protip_icon Did you know?
Vitamin A is essential for a strong immune system. One medium sweet potato can fulfill breastfeeding moms’ daily vitamin A requirement (6).

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Will prednisone dry up the milk supply?

Research indicates that high doses of prednisone might occasionally suppress the milk supply (4). However, the mechanism involved in the process is still not unequivocally understood.

2. What are the side effects of prednisone in babies?

Maternal prednisone intake is known to have no adverse effects in breastfed infants, as a minuscule amount of the drug is transferred into the breast milk. Some experts may recommend waiting for four hours before breastfeeding after taking medicine. However, it may not be necessary in every case (4).

3. Does your body go back to normal after prednisone?

The time it takes to recover from prednisone withdrawal can range from one week to several months and is unique to each individual. Also, the recovery time is influenced by the underlying condition being treated, the duration of use and dose, and other medical considerations (5).

Prednisone is a steroid therapy medication that suppresses the immune system, reduces inflammation, and is commonly used to treat conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, asthma, etc. According to scientific research, taking prednisone while breastfeeding is safe because only a small dose of medicine passes into the milk, and it does not have any adverse effects on the baby. However, if the mother is taking a high dosage of the inflammatory medication, she should feed the baby before consuming prednisone or wait for four hours after consuming it. Also, consult a doctor for the right dosage suitable for your condition. Though the medicine has not shown any effect on the nursing bay, it may lead to weight gain, hair loss, or depression in mothers. Talk to your doctor about the side effects of prednisone, and take good care of yourself by eating healthy, staying hydrated, and resting enough.

Infographic: Conditions Where Prednisone May Be Implicated

Besides asthma, COPD, and rheumatoid diseases, there are several other conditions where you may be prescribed Prednisone. The conditions usually require the body’s immune responses to be suppressed to control their symptoms. The infographic below provides a list of some such health conditions.

notable health conditions where prednisone is usually prescribed (infographic)

Illustration: Momjunction Design Team

Key Pointers

  • Prednisone is an immunosuppressant medication used to treat various conditions such as asthma, COPD, and rheumatoid diseases.
  • Prednisone is generally safe in low doses for breastfeeding mothers according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.
  • The appropriate dose of prednisone while nursing should be determined by a doctor.
  • Prednisolone, the active form of prednisone, can be found in breast milk.
  • Prednisone may cause side effects such as weight gain, hair loss, and altered menstrual cycle in mothers.
  • To reduce its risks, mothers should change breastfeeding frequency, drink ample water, avoid other chemicals, and follow doctor’s instructions.
Prednisone While Breastfeeding_illustration

Image: Dall·E/MomJunction Design Team

References

MomJunction's articles are written after analyzing the research works of expert authors and institutions. Our references consist of resources established by authorities in their respective fields. You can learn more about the authenticity of the information we present in our editorial policy.
  1. L Ost et al.; (1985); Prednisolone excretion in human milk.
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/3998938/
  2. RAYOS (prednisone) delayed-release tablets.
    https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2012/202020s000lbl.pdf
  3. Lisa R Sammaritano and Bonnie L Bermas; (2014); Rheumatoid arthritis medications and lactation.
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24614280/
  4. Drug Safety in Lactation.
    https://www.medsafe.govt.nz/profs/puarticles/lactation.htm
  5. 8 Prednisone Side Effects + How to Minimize Them.
    https://health.clevelandclinic.org/8-prednisone-side-effects-how-to-minimize-them/
  6. op 10 superfoods for breastfeeding moms.
    https://news.sanfordhealth.org/womens/top-10-breastfeeding-superfoods/
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Dr. Priya Shashank

Dr. Priya ShashankIBCLC, BAMS, MHA, IYCF, CCE

Dr. Priya Shashank is a lactation consultant and childbirth educator, striving to bring about a change in the way childbirth and breastfeeding are perceived in India. She works with expecting couples to educate them about childbirth and the initial days with the baby, and helps new moms and babies settle down into breastfeeding routine comfortably. Working from Ludhiana in Punjab,...read full bio