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Can opioids be passed in breast milk?

Yes, opioids can be passed in breast milk but at very low levels. In fact, many medications are delivered at low levels through breast milk and are still considered “safe” during breastfeeding. 

Is it safe to take buprenorphine while pregnant or breastfeeding? 

Buprenorphine is a “category C'' medication in pregnancy, which means that the benefits may outweigh the risks of using buprenorphine while pregnant or breastfeeding. Buprenorphine is actually delivered at lower levels to the fetus through breast milk than in-utero. 

It is definitely safe to breastfeed while on Suboxone for any mother that was already on Suboxone during their pregnancy. If you are on Suboxone and plan to breastfeed, talk to your doctor for more information.

Elena Hill, MD, MPH

Elena Hill, MD; MPH received her MD and Masters of Public Health degrees at Tufts Medical School and completed her family medicine residency at Boston Medical Center. She is currently an attending physician at Bronxcare Health Systems in the Bronx, NY where she works as a primary care physician as well as part time in pain management and integrated health. Her clinical interests include underserved health care, chronic pain and integrated/alternative health.

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