Alcohol's effect on lactation

Alcohol Res Health. 2001;25(3):230-4.


Although pregnant women are discouraged from drinking alcohol because of alcohol's detrimental effect on fetal development, the lore of many cultures encourages lactating women to drink alcohol to optimize breast milk production and infant nutrition. In contrast to this folklore, however, studies demonstrate that maternal alcohol consumption may slightly reduce milk production. Furthermore, some of the alcohol consumed by a lactating woman is transferred to her milk and thus consumed by the infant. This alcohol consumption may adversely affect the infant's sleep and gross motor development and influence early learning about alcohol. Based on this science, it would seem that the recommendation for a nursing mother to drink a glass of beer or wine shortly before nursing may actually be counterproductive.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Alcohol Drinking / adverse effects*
  • Breast Feeding
  • Ethanol / adverse effects*
  • Ethanol / metabolism
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn / growth & development
  • Infant, Newborn / metabolism
  • Lactation / drug effects*
  • Learning / drug effects
  • Male
  • Milk, Human / drug effects
  • Sleep Wake Disorders / etiology


  • Ethanol