Last update Jan. 14, 2021
A diagnostic image test in which substances labeled with radioactive isotopes (radionuclides) are introduced into the body to explore various organs.
The exposure of the infant to radiation will depend on the time that the radionuclide remains in the body (biological half-life or elimination half-life, which is variable according to the substance marked by the radionuclide and can vary between individuals), on its radioactive or physical half-life that is constant and, finally, on the concentration it reaches in milk.
The times for stopping breastfeeding or avoiding close contact have been calculated by means of measurements so that the infant is exposed to a maximum of 1 millisievert (1 mSv = 0.1 rem) of radiation (ARSAC 2019, ICRP 2008, Howe 2008, Stabin 2000). They can be seen, for each radionuclide in ARSAC 2019 p51, ICRP 2008 p163 and US.NCR 2008 tab U.3 and on this website.
For reference, an adult receives between 3 and 6 mSv per year from environmental radiation according to the region where they live, plus an average of 3 mSv for medical examinations and there are places in the world where exposure reaches 70 mSv per year without harmful effects (Goodman 2012).
If you do not want any radiation, you have to stop breastfeeding for 5 to 10 radiological half-lives of the radionuclide used (consult each radionuclide in this website).
In the event of having to interrupt breastfeeding after the exploration, it is recommended to express milk and offer, instead, milk previously expressed and stored in the refrigerator before the test (ARSAC 2019, Amir 2011, ICRP 2008, Moretti 2000).
The milk expressed after the test can be frozen and used after 10 radioactive half-lives of the corresponding isotope (Hale 2017, page 2019).
There are guides to know whether or not to avoid close contact with the infant (Mountford 1999)
Consult the specific radiopharmaceutical used and try to make it the shortest half-life.
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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e-lactancia is a resource recommended by Asociación Española de Bancos de Leche Humana of Spain
Would you like to recommend the use of e-lactancia? Write to us at corporate mail of APILAM