Question

I am a breastfeeding mother and i want to know if it is safe to use Interferon Alfa? Is Interferon Alfa safe for nursing mother and child? Does Interferon Alfa extracts into breast milk? Does Interferon Alfa has any long term or short term side effects on infants? Can Interferon Alfa influence milk supply or can Interferon Alfa decrease milk supply in lactating mothers?

Answer by DrLact: About Interferon Alfa usage in lactation

Because of the low levels in milk and poor oral absorption by the infant, it is unlikely that interferon use by a nursing mother presents any serious risk to the breastfed infant.[1] Holder pasteurization (62.5 degrees C for 30 minutes) decreases the concentration of the related endogenous interferon-gamma by an average about 10%.[2] For use in treating maternal hepatitis B, no difference exist in infection rates between breastfed and formula-fed infants born to hepatitis B-infected women, as long as the infant receives hepatitis B immune globulin and hepatitis B vaccine at birth. Mothers with hepatitis B are encouraged to breastfeed their infants after their infants receive these preventative measures.[3][4] Hepatitis C is not transmitted through breastmilk[5][6] and breastmilk has been shown to inactivate hepatitis C virus (HCV).[7][8] However, the Centers for Disease Control recommends that mothers with HCV infection should consider abstaining from breastfeeding if their nipples are cracked or bleeding. It is not clear if this warning would apply to mothers who are being treated for hepatitis C. Infants born to mothers with HCV infection should be tested for HCV infection; because maternal antibody is present for the first 18 months of life and before the infant mounts an immunologic response, nucleic acid testing is recommended.[5][6]

Interferon Alfa Side Effects in Breastfeeding

One infant was born to a mother who received 3 million units of interferon alfa-2a subcutaneously 3 times weekly during pregnancy and postpartum for essential thrombocytopenia. Her infant was breastfed for 2 weeks postpartum before bilateral mastitis caused the mother to terminate nursing. The infant reportedly thrived, although specific measures were not mentioned.[11]

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