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Breastfeeding Considerations of Opioid Dependent Mothers and Infants

Hilton, Tara C. MSN, RN, CRNP, IBCLC

MCN, The American Journal of Maternal/Child Nursing: July/August 2012 - Volume 37 - Issue 4 - p 236–240
doi: 10.1097/NMC.0b013e318251056c

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has a long-standing recommendation against breastfeeding if the maternal methadone dose is above 20 mg/day. In 2001, the AAP lifted the dose restriction of maternal methadone allowing methadone-maintained mothers to breastfeed. The allowance of breastfeeding among mothers taking methadone has been met with opposition due to the uncertainty that exists related to methadone exposure of the suckling infant. Methadone-maintained mothers are at higher risk for abuse, concomitant psychiatric disorders, limited access to healthcare, and financial hardship. Breastfeeding rates among methadone-maintained women tend to be low compared to the national average. This manuscript will discuss the implications for healthcare practitioners caring for methadone-maintained mothers and infants and associated risks and benefits of breastfeeding. This population of mothers and infants stands to obtain particular benefits from the various well-known advantages of breastfeeding.

What are the benefits of promoting breastfeeding among opioid addicted women?

Tara C. Hilton is a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner at the Newborn Follow-up Clinic, Ambulatory Care Network, NewYork Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia, New York, NY. She is also an Adjunct Professor of Pediatrics, Hunter-Bellevue School of Nursing, New York, NY. She can be reached via e-mail at

The author reports no confl icts of interest.

© 2012 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.