Effect of different doses of ethanol on the milk-ejecting reflex in lactating women

Am J Obstet Gynecol. 1973 Mar 15;115(6):817-21. doi: 10.1016/0002-9378(73)90526-7.


PIP: A clinical test was conducted with 40 healthy women 2-8 days following parturition to assess the effect of ethanol on the milk-ejecting reflex. The women before they were given alcohol were used as their own controls. The inhibition was found to be better correlated with the dose of ethanol administered than with the blood alcohol concentration measurement conducted at the end of the experiment. Results are tabulated and graphed. Ethanol in doses from .5-.93 gm per kilogram produced significant inhibition of the milk-ejecting activity; in doses from 1-1.48, there was an inhibition of the response to suckling; in doses from 1.5-1.9, the strongest inhibition was observed. The study, thus, confirms earlier findings that ethanol blocks oxytocin release. The effect was widely variable but definitely dose-related. It is possible that doses higher than 2 gm per kilogram could completely inhibit the suckling-induced oxytocin release which controls milk-ejecting activity.

MeSH terms

  • Ethanol / administration & dosage*
  • Ethanol / blood
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lactation / drug effects*
  • Oxytocin / pharmacology
  • Oxytocin / physiology
  • Pregnancy
  • Reflex / drug effects
  • Uterus / physiology


  • Ethanol
  • Oxytocin