Arthritis Home > Dexamethasone and Breastfeeding

Although no specific studies have been done on dexamethasone use and breastfeeding, other corticosteroids are known to pass through breast milk, so it might be best to avoid breastfeeding during treatment. The risk to an infant, however, likely decreases with the ear drop and eye drop formulations, so your healthcare provider may decide the drug is okay in your situation.

Can Breastfeeding Women Use Dexamethasone?

Dexamethasone is thought to pass through breast milk. The manufacturers of the medication recommend a woman either take the medication or breastfeed, but not do both. Therefore, if you are nursing a child or are thinking about it, talk with your healthcare provider before taking dexamethasone.
 

What Does the Research Say?

No studies have looked at whether dexamethasone passes through breast milk. Other corticosteroids are known to pass through breast milk in small amounts, and dexamethasone is also expected to do so when taken by mouth.
 
Because of the lack of information on dexamethasone use during breastfeeding, some experts recommend other corticosteroids be used instead, especially if a woman is nursing a newborn or preterm infant. Other experts, however, consider the drug likely safe for use during breastfeeding.
 
Very little medication is expected to reach the bloodstream, where it could pass into breast milk, after using the eye or ear drops, or from the intravitreal implant (eye implant). Based on this information, it is unlikely that these dexamethasone products would cause problems for a nursing infant. However, because the drug has not been adequately studied in breastfeeding women, all potential problems cannot yet be ruled out.
 
If your healthcare provider recommends this medication while breastfeeding, watch for any potential dexamethasone side effects in your child. In addition, when using the eye drops, apply gentle pressure to your tear duct with your finger for at least one minute after inserting the drops into your eye. This will reduce the amount of medication absorbed into your body.
 
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;
Last updated/reviewed:
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