Methadone maintenance and lactation: a review of the literature and current management guidelines

J Hum Lact. 2004 Feb;20(1):62-71. doi: 10.1177/0890334403261027.


Methadone offers significant therapeutic benefits to the population of pregnant, opiate-dependent women and is currently the treatment of choice for this group. Yet the problem of women who elect to breastfeed while on methadone maintenance frequently vexes providers. Although breast milk offers advantages clearly beneficial to the general population of infants, there is debate about recommending breastfeeding to postpartum women receiving methadone maintenance. Although previous research has shown that amounts of methadone in breast milk appear to be very small, and therefore breastfeeding seems to be safe, women on methadone do not often breastfeed, for a variety of reasons. This article provides an overview of the issues facing providers in treating methadone-maintained women who elect to breastfeed. A comprehensive review of existing literature on the subject is offered, along with clinical advice for practitioners providing care to this population of women and children.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lactation / metabolism
  • Lactation / physiology*
  • Methadone / administration & dosage*
  • Methadone / analysis
  • Methadone / pharmacokinetics
  • Milk, Human / chemistry*
  • Milk, Human / metabolism
  • Narcotics / administration & dosage*
  • Narcotics / analysis
  • Narcotics / pharmacokinetics
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic


  • Narcotics
  • Methadone