Saturday, February 28, 2009

Should breastfeeding mothers drink alcohol?


The Guardian reported on February 15, 2009, that a product would go on sale that week in Great Britain that would test the alcohol content in nursing mothers' breast milk. Here is a snippet from the article:

A product that tests for traces of alcohol in breast milk has triggered warnings that mothers who rely on its findings could damage the health of babies and encourage binge drinking.

Milkscreen, which goes on sale in Britain this week, contains test pads that change colour on contact with breast milk containing alcohol, warning women that it is unsafe to breastfeed.

Experts, however, say that there is no clear answer to how much a new mother can drink before the alcohol gets into her milk, nor how long she should wait after drinking the alcohol to ensure it is not passed on to her baby.

The British Medical Association advises breastfeeding women not to drink at all; the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists says one or two units a couple of times a week is "probably" safe. Old wives' tales, however, advocate moderate drinking while breastfeeding, claiming porter can give new mothers extra energy, beer can increase milk production and alcohol in general helps infants sleep.

But, according to Milkscreen, infants can safely consume breast milk with an alcohol concentration of approximately 0.03%. The threshold is, admits Julie Jumonville, founder and chief product officer of the UpSpring baby care project company, based on a number of research papers published by the American Academy of Paediatrics that look only at the impact of alcohol in breast milk on babies' sleeping and feeding patterns.


To read the whole article, click here.

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