Antidepressant treatment during breast-feeding

Katherine L. Wisner*, James M. Perel, Robert L. Findling

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

205 Scopus citations


Objective: The primary purpose of this article is to review critically the literature about use of antidepressants during lactation. Strategies for the clinical management of depressed breast-feeding mothers are also suggested. Method: The authors conducted a computerized search of MEDLINE for articles. The review includes studies in which serum levels of drugs were obtained from nursing infants. Results: Fifteen published reports were located that provided information for the following nine antidepressants: amitriptyline, nortriptyline, desipramine, clomipramine, doxepin, dothiepin, fluoxetine, sertraline, and bupropion. Conclusions: Amitriptyline, nortriptyline, desipramine, clomipramine, dothiepin, and sertraline were not found in quantifiable amounts in nurslings, and no adverse effects were reported. Therefore, these are the drugs of choice for breast-feeding women. Adverse effects were described in some young infants whose mothers had been treated with doxepin ot fluoxetine during breast-feeding. The collective serum level data suggest that infants older than 10 weeks are at low risk for adverse effects of tricyclics, and there is no evidence of accumulation. Research needs include an expanded database of mother-baby serum levels, behavioral; assessments of infants during nursing, and longitudinal developmental evaluation of nurslings. Prescription of an antidepressant for a breast-feeding woman is a case-specific risk-benefit decision.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1132-1137
Number of pages6
JournalAmerican Journal of Psychiatry
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 1996

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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