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J Hum Lact. 2009 May;25(2):199-205. doi: 10.1177/0890334408328295. Epub 2009 Jan 8.

Transfer of buprenorphine into breast milk and calculation of infant drug dose.

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Department of Pediatrics, Karolinska University Hospital, Stockholm, Sweden.


Little is known about the safety of buprenorphine (BUP) in breastfeeding. The aim of this work was to investigate the transfer of buprenorphine and its main active metabolite, norbuprenorphine (n-BUP), into human milk and to determine the drug dose and effects in exposed infants. Seven lactating women, who were maintained on BUP treatment because of previous opiate addiction, were studied in an open observational study. All mothers had a strong wish to breastfeed their newborn infants. Buprenorphine samples for analysis were collected from the urine of 6 infants together with breast milk, blood, and urine from their mothers during a 24-hour period in the week after birth. One mother-infant pair was studied at 9 months of age. Buprenorphine and n-BUP were analyzed by a liquid chromatography/mass spectrometry method suitable for handling different matrices. Buprenorphine and n-BUP were found in low levels in the infants' urine. Breastfed infants were exposed to a calculated BUP dose per kg bodyweight less than 1%, with an average milk/plasma area under the curve of 1.7 (range, 1.1-2.8) for BUP and 0.7 (range, 0.4-1.2) for n-BUP. These data support the use of BUP during breastfeeding. However, the authors recommend that infants be monitored closely.

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