The benefits of breastfeeding are well established, with the American Academy of Pediatrics and Canadian guidelines recommending exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months of life. However, maternal hospitalization, illness, medication use, and poor support can result in early termination of breastfeeding. Caring for breastfeeding patients in otolaryngology is a challenge because of the lack of literature regarding otolaryngology-specific medication safety, patient concerns, and inadequate education among otolaryngologists. This review highlights recent literature regarding lactation in otolaryngology patients, including medication, radiologic imaging, perioperative considerations, and subspecialty-specific considerations for lactating patients.
The majority of common medications used in general otolaryngology are safe for breastfeeding patients, including antihistamines, mucolytics, antitussives, antifungals, and decongestants. Certain analgesics and anti-inflammatories, such as tramadol, are not preferred in breastfeeding individuals. Some subspeciality-specific medications such as biologics (dupilumab) and methotrexate should be avoided. Lactating patients require special perioperative attention to ensure that optimal patient care is provided, such as managing supply, considering length of surgery, managing postoperative pain, and determining the safe amount of time until an infant can be fed.
Conclusions and Relevance
Most medications can be safely used with lactating patients. If physicians are unsure about a medication’s safety, they should consult appropriate resources prior to recommending breastfeeding cessation or to discard pumped milk.
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CME Disclosure Statement: Unless noted, all individuals in control of content reported no relevant financial relationships. If applicable, all relevant financial relationships have been mitigated.
Accepted for Publication: June 23, 2022.
Published Online: August 11, 2022. doi:10.1001/jamaoto.2022.2286
Corresponding Author: M. Elise Graham, MD, IBCLC, Department of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery, Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry, Western University, PO Box 5010, 800 Commissioners Rd E, London, ON N6A 5W9, Canada (email@example.com).
Author Contributions: Dr Graham had full access to all of the data in the study and takes responsibility for the integrity of the data and the accuracy of the data analysis.
Concept and design: All authors.
Acquisition, analysis, or interpretation of data: Elder, Lawlor, Graham.
Drafting of the manuscript: Elder, Graham.
Critical revision of the manuscript for important intellectual content: All authors.
Supervision: Pianosi, Lawlor, Graham.
Conflict of Interest Disclosures: None reported.
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