Last update: July 16, 2017

Interferon Beta-1a

Very Low Risk for breastfeeding

Safe. Compatible.
Minimal risk for breastfeeding and infant.

Interferon beta is a cytokine with antiviral, anti-proliferative and immune-modulatory properties. Produced by fibroblasts and obtained by recombinant DNA engineering. Various forms (1a, 1b and Peginterferon beta 1a, are indicated on the treatment of relapsing Multiple Sclerosis.

In the form of interferon-gamma is naturally found in breastmilk (Goldman 1996) where it is produced by leukocytes from colostrum and mature milk (Lawton 1979); Probably it acts on the oropharyngeal and intestinal lymphoid tissue of the infant contributing to the development and maturation of the immune system (Bocci 1993).
Interferon gamma level is higher in premature mother's milk than in at-term mother's milk (Srivastava 1996, Moles 2015). Milk pasteurization reduces the interferon gamma level (Ewaschuk 2011).
Breastfeeding, probably through increasing prolactin, increases the maternal plasma concentration of interferon gamma and interleukin compared to baseline conditions (Shimaoka 2001).

High molecular weight of various interferons, a high binding capacity to T-lymphocytes and distribution outside the plasma compartment turns it very unlikely the pass into milk.
Due to protein nature, a low oral bioavailability is predicted after being digested by the intestine of infants. Therefore, infants' plasma levels from ingested breast milk must be zero or low (Cree 2013), except in preterm infants and immediate neonatal period (2 first weeks after birth), in which there may be greater intestinal absorption.
Interferons are relatively non-toxic and no adverse effects have been reported in breastfed infants (Almas 2016)

The excretion of interferon β-1A into breast milk is insignificant (Hale 2012). No side effects have been observed in infants after maternal treatment with interferon beta (1A or 1B) for months or years. (Hellwig 2011, Rockhoff 2012, Hale 2012, Fragoso 2013)
Interferon administration does not affect prolactin production (Müller 1992)

Several scientific societies consider that interferon beta can probably be used safely during breastfeeding (Mahadevan 2006, Bove 2014, Bodiguel 2014).
The American Academy of Pediatrics considers alpha interferon as a medication usually compatible with breastfeeding.

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Suggestions made at e-lactancia are done by APILAM´s pediatricians and pharmacists, and are based on updated scientific publications.
It is not intended to replace the relationship you have with your doctor but to compound it.

Jose Maria Paricio, Founder & President of APILAM/e-Lactancia

Your contribution is essential for this service to continue to exist. We need the generosity of people like you who believe in the benefits of breastfeeding.

Thank you for helping to protect and promote breastfeeding.

José María Paricio, founder of e-lactancia.

Other names

Interferon Beta-1a is also known as

Interferon Beta-1a in other languages or writings:


Interferon Beta-1a belongs to this group or family:


Main tradenames from several countries containing Interferon Beta-1a in its composition:


Variable Value Unit
Oral Bioavail. 0 %
Molecular weight 20.025 daltons
VD 62 l/Kg
Tmax 5 hours
T1/2 10 - 19 hours
Theoretical Dose 0,000027 mg/Kg/d
Relative Dose 0,006 %


  1. Langer-Gould AM. Pregnancy and Family Planning in Multiple Sclerosis. Continuum (Minneap Minn). 2019 Jun;25(3):773-792. Abstract
  2. Almas S, Vance J, Baker T, Hale T. Management of Multiple Sclerosis in the Breastfeeding Mother. Mult Scler Int. 2016 Abstract Full text (link to original source) Full text (in our servers)
  3. Alroughani R, Altintas A, Al Jumah M, Sahraian M, Alsharoqi I, AlTahan A, Daif A, Dahdaleh M, Deleu D, Fernandez O, Grigoriadis N, Inshasi J, Karabudak R, Taha K, Totolyan N, Yamout BI, Zakaria M, Bohlega S. Pregnancy and the Use of Disease-Modifying Therapies in Patients with Multiple Sclerosis: Benefits versus Risks. Mult Scler Int. 2016 Abstract Full text (link to original source) Full text (in our servers)
  4. Moles L, Manzano S, Fernández L, Montilla A, Corzo N, Ares S, Rodríguez JM, Espinosa-Martos I. Bacteriological, biochemical, and immunological properties of colostrum and mature milk from mothers of extremely preterm infants. J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr. 2015 Abstract
  5. Bodiguel E, Bensa C, Brassat D, Laplaud D, Le Page E, Ouallet JC, Zephir H, De Seze J; Groupe de Réflexion sur la Sclérose en Plaques. Multiple sclerosis and pregnancy. Rev Neurol (Paris). 2014 Abstract
  6. Bove R, Alwan S, Friedman JM, Hellwig K, Houtchens M, Koren G, Lu E, McElrath TF, Smyth P, Tremlett H, Sadovnick AD. Management of multiple sclerosis during pregnancy and the reproductive years: a systematic review. Obstet Gynecol. 2014 Abstract
  7. Cree BA. Update on reproductive safety of current and emerging disease-modifying therapies for multiple sclerosis. Mult Scler. 2013 Jun;19(7):835-43. Abstract Full text (link to original source) Full text (in our servers)
  8. Fragoso YD, Boggild M, Macias-Islas MA, Carra A, Schaerer KD, Aguayo A, de Almeida SM, Alvarenga MP, Alvarenga RM, Alves-Leon SV, Arruda WO, Brooks JB, Comini-Frota ER, Ferreira ML, Finkelsztejn A, Finkelsztejn JM, de Freitas LD, Gallina AS, da Gama PD, Georgetto S, Giacomo MC, Gomes S, et al. The effects of long-term exposure to disease-modifying drugs during pregnancy in multiple sclerosis. Clin Neurol Neurosurg. 2013 Abstract
  9. Hale TW, Siddiqui AA, Baker TE. Transfer of interferon β-1a into human breastmilk. Breastfeed Med. 2012 Abstract
  10. Rockhoff M, Hellwig K. Family planning and interferon (beta)-1b - A case report of successful hormonal stimulation, pregnancy and breast-feeding under interferon (beta)-1b Aktuel Neurol Suppl.1:S49-S51. 2012
  11. Hellwig K, Gold R. Glatiramer acetate and interferon-beta throughout gestation and postpartum in women with multiple sclerosis. J Neurol. 2011 Abstract
  12. Ewaschuk JB, Unger S, O'Connor DL, Stone D, Harvey S, Clandinin MT, Field CJ. Effect of pasteurization on selected immune components of donated human breast milk. J Perinatol. 2011 Abstract
  13. Mahadevan U, Kane S. American gastroenterological association institute technical review on the use of gastrointestinal medications in pregnancy. Gastroenterology. 2006 Jul;131(1):283-311. Review. Abstract Full text (link to original source) Full text (in our servers)
  14. Coyle PK, Christie S, Fodor P, Fuchs K, Giesser B, Gutierrez A, Lynn J, Weinstock-Guttman B, Pardo L; Women Neurologists MS Initiative. Multiple sclerosis gender issues: clinical practices of women neurologists. Mult Scler. 2004 Abstract
  15. Shimaoka Y, Hidaka Y, Tada H, Takeoka K, Morimoto Y, Amino N. Influence of breast-feeding on the production of cytokines. Am J Reprod Immunol. 2001 Abstract
  16. Kumar AR, Hale TW, Mock RE. Transfer of interferon alfa into human breast milk. J Hum Lact. 2000 Abstract
  17. Goldman AS, Chheda S, Garofalo R, Schmalstieg FC. Cytokines in human milk: properties and potential effects upon the mammary gland and the neonate. J Mammary Gland Biol Neoplasia. 1996 Abstract
  18. Haggstrom J, Adriansson M, Hybbinette T, Harnby E, Thorbert G. Two cases of CML treated with alpha-interferon during second and third trimester of pregnancy with analysis of the drug in the new-born immediately postpartum. Eur J Haematol. 1996 Abstract
  19. Srivastava MD, Srivastava A, Brouhard B, Saneto R, Groh-Wargo S, Kubit J. Cytokines in human milk. Res Commun Mol Pathol Pharmacol. 1996 Abstract
  20. Williams JM, Schlesinger PE, Gray AG. Successful treatment of essential thrombocythaemia and recurrent abortion with alpha interferon. Br J Haematol. 1994 Abstract
  21. Bocci V, von Bremen K, Corradeschi F, Franchi F, Luzzi E, Paulesu L. Presence of interferon-gamma and interleukin-6 in colostrum of normal women. Lymphokine Cytokine Res. 1993 Abstract
  22. Müller H, Hiemke C, Hammes E, Hess G. Sub-acute effects of interferon-alpha 2 on adrenocorticotrophic hormone, cortisol, growth hormone and prolactin in humans. Psychoneuroendocrinology. 1992 Abstract
  23. Lawton JW, Shortridge KF, Wong RL, Ng MH. Interferon synthesis by human colostral leucocytes. Arch Dis Child. 1979 Abstract

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