Breast milk-increasing medication linked to neurological disorder

Nursing mothers who have difficulty establishing or maintaining breast milk production may be prescribed medication to increase the amount of breast milk they produce. One popular choice has been metoclopramide, most commonly known as Reglan.

The drug is primarily used in infants to treat gastroesophageal reflux and in children and adults to treat heartburn or nausea and vomiting caused by other medications. But Reglan has a side effect of increasing the prolactin in the brain. Prolactin is the milk-making hormone. Coupled with frequent and regular breast pumping, Reglan has been shown to increase breast milk production. A small amount of the mother’s dose will transfer to her breast milk, but studies indicate that there have been no side effects to infants.

However, some reports of other, serious side effects from the use of Reglan have made breastfeeding advocates leery of the medication. Some mothers have reported feeling fatigued, irritable or depressed while taking the medication. Reglan is in a class of medications known as dopamine-blockers, which includes several antipsychotic and some antidepressants. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently issued a black box warning to consumers and health care providers warning of the risk of a neurological disorder called tardive dyskinesia with the long-term or high-dose use of Reglan.

As an alternative medication to Reglan, breastfeeding experts recommend Motillium (domperidone), to increase breast milk production. Motillium does not pass the blood-brain barrier and as a result has fewer side effects.

Source: Breastfeeding Online