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Subutex and Breastfeeding

Research has shown that the active ingredient in Subutex (sublingual buprenorphine) passes through breast milk. Although only a small amount is expected to pass through breast milk, the manufacturer of the drug recommends that breastfeeding women not use Subutex. Some of the potentially serious problems this drug may cause in a nursing infant include breathing problems and difficulty feeding.

Can Breastfeeding Women Use Subutex?

Subutex® (sublingual buprenorphine) is a prescription medication used to treat opioid dependence. This medication passes through breast milk. The manufacturer recommends that women not breastfeed while using Subutex. Therefore, if you are breastfeeding or planning to start, talk to your healthcare provider before using this medicine.

More Information on Subutex and Breastfeeding

Buprenorphine, the active ingredient of Subutex, has been shown to pass through breast milk in small amounts. In addition, buprenorphine is not absorbed well when taken by mouth, which is why it is usually injected, taken as a sublingual "under-the-tongue" tablet, or used as a skin patch.
Therefore, it would be unlikely that a nursing infant would be exposed to large levels of the drug through breast milk. Nonetheless, because of the potentially serious risk for breathing problems, it is safest to not breastfeed while using Subutex.
If your healthcare provider suggests that you receive Subutex while breastfeeding, make sure to watch for any potential warning signs in your infant. These might include:
  • Unusual drowsiness
  • Difficulty feeding
  • Slow or irregular breathing.

Talking With Your Healthcare Provider

You should discuss breastfeeding and Subutex use with your healthcare provider. Each woman's situation is different, and you and your healthcare provider understand your situation best. After considering what you want and expect, as well as your current health situation, the two of you can make a shared decision that is right for you.
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