Date of this Version


Document Type

Conference Presentation

Publication Details

Published version

Stephens, A., Brodibb, W., McGuire, T., & Deckx, L. (2016). Is this medication safe to use in breastfeeding? Poster abstract presented at the 2016 PHC Research Conference: Reform and innovation in PHC policy and practice. 8-9 June, 2016. Canberra, Australia.

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Copyright © 2016 Primary Health Care Research & Information Service


Context and aim

Postpartum medication use is common. Breastfeeding women often have concerns about real and theoretical risks to themselves, their infant or milk supply. Health practitioners are a frequent resource for medication safety information. Our study aim was to identify and compare commonly mentioned medications and types of lactation queries in calls from consumers and health practitioners to two medication helplines.


This retrospective, mixed method study extracted lactation-related calls from two Australian medicines call centre databases NPS Medicines Line (NPSML) and Therapeutic Advice Information Service (TAIS). Most frequent medicines and classes were identified. Available call narratives were explored to identify common themes.


There were 5662 lactation related calls to NPSML (2002-2010) and 2219 to TAIS (2001 -2010). Most common consumer callers were females (95.5%), ringing for themselves (34.5%) or a child (57.4%). GPs (45%), community pharmacists (36%) and nurses (12%) called most frequently to TAIS. The most frequent individual medications mentioned were paracetamol (6.9%), ibuprofen (4.8%), codeine (4.2%) and amoxicillin (3.3%) by consumers and sertraline (3.7%), levonorgestrel (2.7%) and domperidone (2.4%) by health professionals. Themes of queries were similar for both cohorts, mainly around medication safety and milk supply.

Innovative contribution to policy, practice and/or research

This study provides important information about Australian consumers’ and health practitioners’ medication concerns during lactation. Identification of the types of concerns mothers and health practitioners have, and the medications involved will enable the development of targeted strategies to improve appropriate and safe medication use in breastfeeding women.



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