Ciprofloxacin and Breastfeeding

Although ciprofloxacin has been shown to pass through breast milk in small amounts, it is unknown what effects this medication might have on a nursing infant. Because the drug may cause serious joint and muscle problems in infants and children, women should probably avoid the oral and intravenous forms of ciprofloxacin while breastfeeding.

Can Breastfeeding Women Use Ciprofloxacin?

Ciprofloxacin is a prescription antibiotic that comes in a variety of forms and is used to treat several different infections. The oral and intravenous (IV) forms of this medication do pass through breast milk. However, it is not known whether ciprofloxacin ophthalmic (eye) and ear products pass through breast milk. Therefore, if you are breastfeeding a child, you should talk with your healthcare provider before using ciprofloxacin.

What Does the Research Say?

Ciprofloxacin is known to pass through breast milk in small amounts. However, no studies have been done to see how much of the medication is absorbed by the nursing child.
Theoretically, the calcium in breast milk might bind to ciprofloxacin in the infant's digestive tract, preventing the medication from being absorbed into the bloodstream (this is why ciprofloxacin should not be taken with calcium). However, it is not known if this is really the case.
Because ciprofloxacin may cause serious joint and muscle problems in infants and children, concerns exist about possible ciprofloxacin exposure through breast milk. Therefore, the oral and IV products should probably be avoided in breastfeeding women if possible. In some situations, however, the benefits of using ciprofloxacin while breastfeeding may outweigh the possible risks.
The ear drops and ophthalmic products are not expected to reach the bloodstream in significant (if any) amounts after normal use. Therefore, it is unlikely that these ciprofloxacin products would reach the breast milk and be passed to a nursing infant. However, because ciprofloxacin eye and ear products have never been studied in breastfeeding women, potential problems cannot yet be ruled out.
To help reduce the amount of ciprofloxacin ophthalmic medication that may reach the breast milk, apply gentle pressure to the tear duct with your finger for at least one minute after using the eye drops. Then gently wipe away any remaining medication with a tissue.
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