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Birth drugs impact on breastfeeding

Drugs used to treat bleeding after childbirth may restrict a mother's ability to breastfeed, a report suggests

Drugs used to treat bleeding after childbirth may restrict a mother's ability to breastfeed, a report suggests.

The study conducted by Swansea University suggests the use of clotting drugs oxytocin or ergometrine may hamper a woman's ability to produce milk. The team analysed data on more than 48,000 women who gave birth in South Wales.

Among women not given the drugs, 65.5 per cent started breastfeeding within 48 hours of giving birth. But among those who received oxytocin, only 59.1 per cent breastfed. For those given an additional injection of ergotmetrine, the rate fell to 56.4 per cent.

Lead researcher Dr Sue Jordan said more research was required but based on the findings, use of the clotting drugs could lead to 50,000 fewer British babies being breastfed every year.

She calculated that this could lead to an extra 1,000 children becoming clinically obese and 3,000 developing childhood asthma.

Rosemary Dodds, policy research officer for the National Childbirth Trust (NCT), said women needed more support to start breastfeeding: "A lot of women are not given enough information about the medications that might be given to them during childbirth, and women at low risk of bleeding may not need to take these drugs. It is important that [they] understand the risks and can give their informed consent before they go into labour."

1st September 2009

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