Background: This article presents an overview of the excretion of the SSRIs citalopram, paroxetine, fluoxetine, fluvoxamine and sertraline in breast milk.
Material and methods: Published articles on selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors and excretion in breast milk were identified and reviewed. In addition, drug concentrations were measured in milk from eight women using paroxetine (n = 4), citalopram (n = 3) or fluvoxamine (n = 1).
Results: Data from the literature indicate that the relative dose to the infant is lowest for fluvoxamine and sertraline, somewhat higher for paroxetine and highest for citalopram and fluoxetine. Adverse effects were reported in three of the 119 breastfed infants. Our own results show minimal excretion of fluvoxamine, small excretion of paroxetine and higher excretion of citalopram into breast milk.
Interpretation: If treatment with a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor is started during the postpartum period, fluoxetine should not be the first alternative. High doses of citalopram should also be used with caution. However, when the use of an SSRI is clearly indicated in a breastfeeding woman, available data generally indicate that the positive effects of breast-feeding outweigh the risks for pharmacological effects in the infant.