Saturday, June 18, 2011

How safe is your medication for breastfeeding? New LactMed app!

NOTE: Previously the LactMed app was not available on the Android Market - you had to go to the LactMed website to download it. It is now available on the Market directly - just search "LactMed".

I was talking to a doctor recently about a woman who is breastfeeding and newly diagnosed with a chronic health condition. The doctor said, "I want to prescribe her Drug Y, but she couldn't take that when she's breastfeeding, right?" Since the answer to "can she take that when breastfeeding" is almost always "yes", I suspected it was fine, and I made it a teachable moment. "I don't know, but I know how you can find out!" I said. I opened the LactMed website, typed in the drug, and voila! It was of minimal concern for a breastfeeding dyad, and I had spread knowledge about this resource to one more person.

I have written about the issue of breastfeeding and medications before and mentioned LactMed as an easily accessible, free resource from a very trusted source (the NIH). Now the exciting news is that LactMed is being made available as a free app for iPhones and Android phones. This is a fantastic addition as many doctors use apps to aid in prescribing, and some of the most popular apps like ePocrates and Micromedex are not nearly as comprehensive and accurate about breastfeeding information as they should be (check out this chart to see how widely varied different sources can be for the same list of commonly prescribed drugs.) Having a more accurate app on the screen right next to the prescribing app - instead of a website that you need to go and access - will hopefully help increase use of LactMed as a resource.

When doctors think they can't prescribe a drug for a breastfeeding woman, one of two things happens: 1) The baby is weaned early (sometimes very early) and unnecessarily, or 2) The woman is not treated because the doctor doesn't even offer the drug, or because when she is told she has to choose between breastfeeding and treatment, she chooses breastfeeding and - again unnecessarily - postpones or forgoes treatment. Do you know a doctor, pharmacist, or NP/CNM? Let's prevent these scenarios by spreading the word about an easy and accurate resource for medication safety!

13 comments:

MomTFH said...

Thanks for sharing! I introduce physicians and other health care practitioners to LactMed all the time.

I just tried to search the app on iTunes and it is apparently not available yet. Hope it's ready soon.

MomTFH said...

Duh. I searched iTunes instead of the app store. Downloading the app right now.

Elita said...

Interesting. The Infant Risk Center has an app coming out, but their app won't be free. LactMed is a wonderful resource, it will be great to have easy access to it via your smart phone.

Rebecca said...

No worries! If you're spreading the word, there's also a direct link to the store. So glad you're spreading the good word!! :-)

Rebecca said...

I didn't know InfantRisk was going to be coming out with one! That's great news. I love how MMM has risk categories, whereas LactMed does not, but since it's not free (the book or the app) LactMed is usually the easier intro to the occasional prescriber. I would pay for an InfantRisk app though!

labortrials said...

Fantastic! Thanks for the info!

Kat_Shoshin said...

I was told at the ER to choose to halt breastfeeding my 10 day old baby to treat a Kidney infection. I declined and they tried to get me to pump and dump, but couldn't find a pump for me. I stayed in the ER on an IV for two days on sub par medication because no one could confirm if anything stronger was safe. This would have helped greatly.

Rebecca said...

@Kat: I am so sorry to hear that. It is very frustrating to me that so few doctors are aware of very reliable and easily accessible resources for medications & BF safety. If I had my way, every med student would be issued a copy of "Medications and Mothers Milk", or the LactMed app, or something along those lines on their first day of school!

Charlotte said...

This is fantastic! I'll be spreading the word too.

For Android users, the link is on the LactMed website at

http://toxnet.nlm.nih.gov/help/lactmedapp.htm

PegHead said...

I just bought this on my Droid for $1.99. totally worth it. checking it out now. First annoying thing I found is that it's default answer to Cesarean is "yes" rather than "no." I *think* that cesarean deliveries are still *barely* in the minority, right?

all-in-all, after clicking around a bunch more, I think for a care provider on any level, nurse, doctor, BF Consultant, it's nice to have facts at hand and a quick link to the LactMed site.

Rebecca said...

@PegHead: Whoops! The Kellymom comments have alerted me to the fact that a lot of people are getting confused by that. If you're looking for the LactMed app itself, vs. the link through the MBC's app, follow the instructions on the LactMed website.

Jamie P. said...

Hi all, my name is Jamie and I'm a Health Outreach librarian at the National Library of Medicine. My division of NLM puts out Lactmed. The app is free because in essence you already paid (your tax dollars at work!)

The link to find/download the apps: http://toxnet.nlm.nih.gov/help/lactmedapp.htm

Lactmed is produced by a "peer-review panel who scrutinizes the data for each drug record to assure their scientific validity, reasonableness, and currency."

You can read more about the reviewers here: http://toxnet.nlm.nih.gov/help/lactpeerreview.htm

Hope this is helpful!

Rebecca said...

Jamie, thank you so much for your comment and for your work! This is truly a fantastic use of my tax dollars - thank you :-)