Contraindications to Breastfeeding


A few situations exist in which breastfeeding is contraindicated. If you have had a double mastectomy or breast reduction surgery in which your nipples were surgically removed and reattached, you will not be able to breastfeed. Additionally, if you were ever exposed to the AIDS virus, you should not breastfeed. Rare cases have been reported of infants acquiring the virus through their mothers’ breastmilk. A woman with untreated active tuberculosis should also refrain from breastfeeding.

A mother who uses cocaine or any other illegal recreational drugs should not breastfeed because these substances pass readily through the milk and can cause serious or fatal reactions in the baby. Several other substances may require temporary cessation of nursing. These include radioactive isotopes, antimetabolites, cancer chemotherapy drugs, and a small number of other medications.

If your baby is diagnosed with galactosemia, he is missing a liver enzyme and is unable to metabolize lactose. Since breastmilk is high in lactose, breastfeeding is contraindicated in this case. Continuation would cause mental retardation. The baby must be placed on a special formula such as Nutramigen. Some states check for this disease as part of the infant screening test.