For women who are taking Combivir, breastfeeding is not something they are advised to do, both because the medication passes through breast milk and because the HIV virus does, too. Women who can safely feed their babies formula are advised to do this instead. However, this may not be possible in certain situations; therefore, if you are taking Combivir and breastfeeding, discuss the situation with your healthcare provider.
Combivir and Breastfeeding: An Overview
Both of the components of Combivir® (lamivudine/zidovudine) pass through breast milk. Women with HIV or AIDS in developed countries (such as the United States) are typically advised not to breastfeed in order to reduce the chance of transmitting the virus to their infants. Therefore, most women taking Combivir should avoid breastfeeding.
Combivir and Breastfeeding: What Does the Research Say?
Studies have shown that both lamivudine and zidovudine pass through breast milk. More importantly, the HIV virus also passes through breast milk. Any HIV-infected woman who can safely feed her baby formula should not breastfeed. There are some situations in which formula feeding is not safe, such as if no clean water supply is available to mix the formula or wash the bottles. In these situations, it is difficult to know whether breastfeeding or formula feeding is more dangerous. In general, using both breastfeeding and formula feeding is considered to be the most dangerous, as digestive system irritation or infections from unclean water can allow HIV to pass into the body from the digestive tract more easily.
Talking With Your Healthcare Provider About Combivir and Breastfeeding
You should talk with your healthcare provider about Combivir and breastfeeding. 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 about Combivir and breastfeeding that is right for you.
Written by/reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last reviewed by: KristiMonson, PharmD;
List of references (click here):
Combivir [package insert]. Research Triangle Park, NC: GlaxoSmithKline;2011 November.
Briggs GG, Freeman RK, Yaffe SJ. Drugs in Pregnancy and Lactation. 7th ed. Philadelphia (PA): Lippincott Williams & Wilkins;2005.
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