Antipsychotic drugs and breastfeeding

Pediatr Endocrinol Rev. 2013 Mar-Apr;10(3):308-17.


Objective: The incidence of psychotic disorders during the postpartum period is higher than at any other time during a women's life and coincides with the time when breastfeeding is most recommended. As a result, safety data on use of antipsychotic drugs during lactation is essential. Our aim was to analyze the medical literature for information on antipsychotic drug use during breastfeeding and to determine the safety of their use for the exposed infant.

Data sources: Medline (U.S. National Library of Medicine), LactMed (U.S. National Library of Medicine) and Reprotox (Reproductive Toxicology Center) databases were searched to identify all relevant medical literature on antipsychotic medications and lactation. The database search, updated to March, 2012, used the generic name of each antipsychotic drug in combination with the terms breastfeeding or lactation or breast-milk.

Study selection: 4 prospective studies, 12 case series, 28 case reports and 1 pharmaceutical registry were included.

Data extraction: Infant outcomes focusing on long-term outcome were summarized from all reports of breastfeeding mothers taking antipsychotic medications. Recommendations for drug use during breastfeeding were based on safety data and on pharmaco kinetic drug properties. Recommendatins were categorized as acceptable, possible under medical supervision, or, not recommended.

Results: Among 21 antipsychotic drugs used in clinical practice, for 7 there are no data at all regarding breastfeeding and for 6 others the data are based only on few infant exposures. Only few prospective studies assessing'use of haloperidol, chlorpromazine and olanzapine during breastfeeding were identified. Olanzapine and quetiapine were categorized as acceptable for breastfeeding. Chlorpromazine, haloperidol, risperidone and zuclopenthixol were categorized as possible for breastfeeding under medical supervision. Breastfeeding cannot be currently recommended for the following medications: aripiprazole, asenapine, chlorprothixene, clozapine, droperidol, fluphenazine, flupenthixol, iloperidone, lurasidone, paliperidone, perphenazine, pimozide, trifluoperazine, thiothixene and ziprasidone.

Conclusions: With a limited number of infants exposed to antipsychotic drugs during breastfeeding, for most drugs a firm and evidence-based conclusion cannot be reached. Counseling of breastfeeding mothers should be carefully assessed. Pharmacokinetic drug characteristics, disease severity, behavioral or psychosocial alternatives, preventative interventions and possible impact of discontinuing breastfeeding on the maternal-infant relationship should all be considered.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antipsychotic Agents / adverse effects
  • Antipsychotic Agents / classification
  • Antipsychotic Agents / pharmacokinetics
  • Antipsychotic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Breast Feeding* / adverse effects
  • Breast Feeding* / statistics & numerical data
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Contraindications
  • Depression, Postpartum / drug therapy*
  • Depression, Postpartum / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Maternal Exposure / adverse effects
  • Maternal Exposure / statistics & numerical data
  • Prospective Studies
  • United States / epidemiology


  • Antipsychotic Agents