Free app tracks drugs that affect breast milk

LactMed appA source of anxiety for new parents is knowing what medications are safe for a nursing mother.

LactMed, a free online database with information on drugs and lactation, is one of the newest additions to the National Library of Medicine’s TOXNET system, a Web-based collection of resources covering toxicology, chemical safety, and environmental health. For each medicine, LactMed provides information on whether or not the medicine can be found in breast milk, whether it can have an effect on nursing babies and other options for that class of medication.

The app is a useful reference tool for doctors who don’t take care of nursing mothers on a regular basis and may not be familiar with medications that are safe for breastfeeding.

The app covers over-the-counter medications and supplements in addition to prescription medications. All this clinical information is updated monthly.

Geared to both the healthcare practitioner and nursing mother, LactMed contains over 450 drug records. It includes information such as maternal levels in breast milk, infant levels in blood, potential effects in breastfeeding infants and on lactation itself, the American Academy of Pediatrics category indicating the level of compatibility of the drug with breastfeeding, and alternate drugs to consider. References are included, as is nomenclature information, such as the drug’s Chemical Abstract Service’s (CAS) Registry number and its broad drug class.

LactMed was developed by a pharmacist who is an expert in this subject. Three other recognized authorities serve as the database’s scientific review panel. Ancillary resources, such as a glossary of terms related to drugs and lactation, and breastfeeding links are also offered.

LactMed can be searched together with TOXNET’s other databases in a multi-database environment, to obtain other relevant information about drugs. As a work in progress, LactMed will continue to expand with additional drugs and be enhanced with other substances, such as industrial chemicals and radiation.

LactMed may be searched at http://toxnet.nlm.nih.gov/cgi-bin/sis/htmlgen?LACT

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