Inproceedings: an article in a conference proceedings.
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Codeine and breastfeeding: cases and STIS position
Title of the conference
2nd Annual Meeting of the Swiss Association for Perinatal Pharmacology
Zürich, Switzerland, December 3, 2008
Codeine is commonly used in North America in the postpartum period for pain associated with episotomyand caesarean section. Analgesic properties of codeine are mainly due to its metabolisation intomorphine (5-10%) via CYP2D6. This enzyme is subject to genetic variability, which can alter theamount of active narcotic excreted into breastmilk. A recent case report highlighted this issue, reportingfatal consequences in a newborn whose mother was taking codeine for episiotomy-related pain (1-2). New-born's blood (post-mortem) and mother's milk showed high morphine concentrations. Genotypeanalysis classified the mother as a CYP2D6 ultrarapid metabolizer, a genotype associated withenhanced formation of morphine from codeine. The authors concluded "clinical and laboratory picturewas consistent with opioid toxicity leading to neonatal death". Subsequent comments expressed reasonnabledoubts on this conclusion, though (3-4). Since, anxiety increased about the safety of codeineduring breastfeeding and genetic screening was proposed as a prevention strategy.STIS position:? Codeine with paracetamol is not a usual pain prescription in the postpartum period in Switzerland.This markedly reduces codeine use during lactation in our country, and may partly explain why webarely collected 3 codeine exposures through breastmilk in 15 years at the STIS (all reported afterabove case's publication and without side effects).? Other centrally acting analgesics are not considered safer (5) than codeine during lactation andrequire close observation for somnolence in both the mother and the infant in case of repeated maternaldosage. A lack of monitoring was salient in the case reported above (1).? If the incidence of CYP2D6 polymorphism (1-10% of individuals in Western Europe) (6) can beconsidered of clinical significance, it is not the exclusive predisposing factor to toxic effects. Healthynewborns can be particularly sensitive to even usual doses of narcotic analgesics because of immaturedrug disposition (7). Conditions leading to impaired clearance or increased susceptibility inthe infant (e.g. preterm birth, metabolic diseases) represent further risk factors for opioid toxicity,regardless of the molecule.In conclusion, when prescribed on a large scale, codein can be rarely associated with adverse drugreactions in breastfed infants (8-9). However, other central acting analgesics cannot be considered asinvariably safer. Therefore, paracetamol and well documented NSAID should be used in 1st choiceduring lactation. In case of severe pain, codeine (with paracetamol) remains an acceptable choice butrequires close monitoring, and breastfeeding mothers should be educated regarding risks related toaccumulation in the newborn. Finally, it is doubtful whether CYP2D6 genetic screening would preventall toxic effects, as other risk factors exist for opioids toxicity
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