Acetaldehyde, the toxic metabolite of alcohol, does not
appear to pass into breast milk .
Reported undesirable effects of alcohol on the nursing infant have included disruption of sleep patterns [5,6], hypoglycemia ,
and reduced breast milk intake [8,9]
There are conflicting reports on the effects of ethanol ingested through breast milk on the development
of motor skills (picking up small objects, tying shoes, walking, kicking,
etc.) in nursing infants. One study of 400 infants concluded that alcohol intake of more than 1 drink
per day during nursing had a slight detrimental effect on infant development of
motor skills. All of the infants had normal mental development . A larger
study of 915 18-month-old toddlers did not find a any unfavorable effects on
motor skills associated with alcohol ingested by infants through breast milk .
The American Academy of Pediatrics
has classified alcohol as a drug "Usually Compatible With Breastfeeding" .
The American Academy of Family Physicians considers an occasional alcoholic
drink compatible with breastfeeding .
Casual use of alcohol such as 1 glass of wine is unlikely to cause either
short- or long-term problems in the nursing infant.
Women who wish to drink socially may reduce exposure to their infants by storing milk
before drinking and /or waiting for complete alcohol elimination from the breast
The calculator "Estimated Time Until
Zero Level of Alcohol in Breast Milk" may be used to estimate the time it would take to eliminate alcohol
in the breast milk after consuming a given number of alcoholic drinks.
Online Resources: LactMed,
Lawton ME. Alcohol in breast milk.Aust N Z J Obstet Gynaecol.1985 Feb;25(1):71-3.
2. Kesaniemi YA.Ethanol and acetaldehyde in the milk and peripheral
blood of lactating women after ethanol administration.J Obstet Gynaecol Br Commonw.1974 Jan;81(1):84-6.
3 .Transfer of drugs and other chemicals into human milk. Pediatrics.
4.The American Academy of Family Physicians. AAFP Policy Statement on Breastfeeding.
http://www.aafp.org/x6633.xml. Accessed 10-5-05
5.Mennella JA and Garcia-Gomez PL
Sleep disturbances after acute exposure to alcohol in mothers' milk. Alcohol.2001;25(3):153-8.
6.Mennella JA and Gerrish CJ .Effects of exposure to alcohol in mother's milk on infant
sleep. Pediatrics. 1998
7. Lamminpaa A. Alcohol intoxication in childhood and adolescence. Alcohol
8. Mennella JA. Regulation of milk intake after exposure to alcohol in
mothers' milk. Alcohol Clin Exp Res. 2001;25(4):590-3.
9. Mennella JA, Beauchamp GK. The transfer of alcohol to human milk. Effects
on flavor and the infantís behavior. N Engl J Med 1991;325:981-5.
10.Little RE, et al. Maternal alcohol use during breast-feeding and infant
mental and motor development at one year. N Engl J
11. Little RE, et al. Alcohol, breastfeeding, and development at 18 months.Pediatrics.2002