Is It Safe To Take Prednisone While Breastfeeding?

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Have a fever when you are breastfeeding? Your stomach is upset and cannot stop those visits to the toilet? You just wait for the body to heal itself as taking medicines is not a good idea when you are nursing your baby. But what about more painful ailments related to the immune system? Can you take immuno-suppresant like prednisone while breastfeeding?

Research by The National Transplantation Pregnancy Registry in the US, studied 124 breastfeeding women with transplants, for around 48 months, and found no apparent harm to the infant due to prednisone.

But does it mean prednisone is safe while breastfeeding? Momjunction answers this question and also explains the effects of the drug.

What Is Prednisone?

Prednisone is a glucocorticoid medication mostly used to suppress the immune system and decrease inflammation in conditions such as asthma, COPD, and rheumatoid diseases. Doctors prescribe prednisone to treat low corticosteroid 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.

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

[ Read: Safe Drugs During Breast Feeding ]

What Is The Safe Dose Of Prednisone While Nursing?

A medical consultant is a 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).

[ Read: Zoloft During Breastfeeding ]

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
  • Increase in blood sugar levels
  • Formation of nodular lesions or acne on the skin
  • Osteopenia or osteoporosis
  • Hair loss
  • 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.

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 breastmilk before taking the medicine, and feed this during the gap.
  • Drink adequate water to ensure optimal metabolite-excretion.
  • 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.

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

[ Read: Airborne While Breastfeeding ]

Natural Ways To Boost Your Immune System While Breastfeeding:

Following some simple tips may help boost the natural functioning of your immune system.

  • Get enough rest to eliminate excess stress.
  • Avoid alcohol and illicit drugs.
  • Eat healthy food including fresh vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and nuts.
  • Catch some sun rays for 10-15 minutes daily.
  • Indulged in exercising regimes like yoga, walking, and Tai Chi.

The amount of prednisone entering breast milk is too low to affect your baby adversely. In the case of high prednisone dose, avoid breastfeeding for four hours after the intake. High doses might cause temporary loss of milk supply. In general, it is best to avoid any drugs while breastfeeding.

Did you take prednisone while breastfeeding? Did you experience any side-effects? Tell us here!


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