Last update Aug. 22, 2022
Very Low Risk
Interferon Alfa is a cytokine with antiviral, antiproliferative and immunomodulatory properties with is produced by leukocytes and lymphoblasts that are obtained by recombinant DNA engineering. On various types (2a, 2b, N1, N3, etc.), it is indicated on the treatment of chronic hepatitis B and C, some neoplasms and leukemias. Subcutaneous administration.
The excretion of interferon Alfa-2B into breast milk is insignificant. (Kumar 2000, Haggstrom 1996)
No effects were reported in an infant whose mother was given Interferon Alfa-2B (Williams 1994), neither side effects have been observed in infants after maternal treatment for months or years with interferon beta (1A or 1B). (Almas 2016, Fragoso 2013, Hale 2012, Rockhoff 2012, Hellwig 2011)
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)
Interferon administration does not affect prolactin production. (Müller 1992)
Several scientific societies consider that Alfa and/or Beta interferons can probably be safely used during breastfeeding (Hale, LactMed, Balsat 2018, Briggs 2015, Mahadevan 2006, Bove 2014, Bodiguel 2014). The American Academy of Pediatrics considers interferon Alfa as a medication usually compatible with breastfeeding. (AAP 2001)
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 (Moles 2015, Srivastava 1996). 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)
We do not have alternatives for Interferon Alfa (IFN-α) since it is relatively safe.
Suggestions made at e-lactancia are done by APILAM team of health professionals, and are based on updated scientific publications. It is not intended to replace the relationship you have with your doctor but to compound it. The pharmaceutical industry contraindicates breastfeeding, mistakenly and without scientific reasons, in most of the drug data sheets.
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Thank you for helping to protect and promote breastfeeding.
e-lactancia is a resource recommended by Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine - 2012 of United States of America
Would you like to recommend the use of e-lactancia? Write to us at corporate mail of APILAM