Clinical studies on Flagyl and breastfeeding have shown that the drug passes through breast milk. Although no significant side effects were reported in the nursing infants, there is a theoretical risk of childhood cancer due to Flagyl exposure through breast milk. Before using Flagyl, breastfeeding women should talk to their healthcare providers about any potential risks.
Is Flagyl Safe for Breastfeeding Women?
Flagyl® (metronidazole) passes through breast milk in humans. The manufacturer of Flagyl does not recommend taking this medication while breastfeeding. Therefore, breastfeeding women should talk to their healthcare providers before taking Flagyl. There is some concern about the carcinogenic (cancer-causing) potential of Flagyl, especially when young children may be exposed.
Flagyl and Breastfeeding: What Does the Research Say?
Studies have shown that Flagyl passes through breast milk. No significant side effects (in the infants) have been reported due to maternal use of Flagyl. However, there is a theoretical risk of childhood (or even adult) cancer due to Flagyl exposure through breast milk. Flagyl increases the risk of certain cancers in mice and rats; it is unknown if the same is true for humans.
Flagyl is often used to treat trichomoniasis (a sexually transmitted disease). For this use, a single, one-time dose of Flagyl can be taken. When Flagyl is taken in this manner, it is usually recommended to stop breastfeeding for 12 to 24 hours after the dose (to limit exposure to the infant). There are no standard recommendations when Flagyl is taken for longer periods of time.
Talking With Your Healthcare Provider About Flagyl and Breastfeeding
You should talk with your healthcare provider about Flagyl and breastfeeding. Each woman's situation is different, and you and your healthcare provider understand your situation best. After considering what you want and expect, as well as your current health situation, the two of you can make a shared decision about Flagyl and breastfeeding that is right for you.
Written by/reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last reviewed by: KristiMonson, PharmD;
List of references (click here):
Flagyl [package insert]. New York, NY: Pfizer, Inc.;2006 August.
Flagyl ER [package insert]. New York, NY: Pfizer, Inc.;2006 August.
Flagyl 375 [package insert]. New York, NY: Pfizer, Inc.;2006 August.
Briggs GG, Freeman RK, Yaffe SJ. Drugs in Pregnancy and Lactation. 7th ed. Philadelphia (PA): Lippincott Williams & Wilkins;2005.
National Library of Medicine (US). Drugs and Lactation Database (LactMED). NLM Web site. Available at: http://toxnet.nlm.nih.gov/cgi-bin/sis/htmlgen?LACT. Accessed August 8, 2008.
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