The use of complementary and alternative medicines during breastfeeding: results from the Herbal supplements in Breastfeeding InvesTigation (HaBIT) study.

Bettiol A, Lombardi N, Marconi E, Crescioli G, Bonaiuti R, Maggini V, Gallo E, Mugelli A, Firenzuoli F, Ravaldi C, Vannacci A

AIMS:

The use of complementary and alternative medicines (CAMs) during breastfeeding is increasing, mainly because of their presumed greater safety compared with conventional medications. However, CAMs can cause serious adverse effects, and there is limited high-quality evidence supporting their use during lactation. In Italy, specific investigations on the attitude of lactating women towards CAMs are lacking. The Herbal supplements in Breastfeeding InvesTigation (HaBIT) study aimed to explore attitudes to and knowledge on CAMs among lactating women.

METHODS:

A web-based survey was conducted over a 6-year period among lactating women resident in Tuscany, Italy. Data on lactating behaviour, CAMs use during pregnancy or breastfeeding, and women’s knowledge about the efficacy and safety of CAMs were collected.

RESULTS:

A total of 388 lactating women answered the questionnaire. The majority of them were primiparae, with a high educational level. Of these, 204 women declared themselves to have used CAMs during breastfeeding. Moreover, 61% and 48% of subjects reported also using CAMs before and during pregnancy, respectively. A significant proportion of subjects were unable to identify correctly the types of CAMs they were using. Seventy-three per cent of women were convinced that CAMs were equally safe or safer than conventional medications; nevertheless, 65% of women admitted to have no scientific information about the potential risks of CAMs, and 14 CAMs users reported that they had experienced side effects.

CONCLUSIONS:

These results demonstrate the need for healthcare providers to increase the awareness of breastfeeding women about CAMs. Further research is needed to support the evidence base for nonpharmaceutical approaches for symptom control during breastfeeding.

 

Articolo di riferimento

The use of complementary and alternative medicines during breastfeeding: results from the Herbal supplements in Breastfeeding InvesTigation (HaBIT) study.

Bettiol A, Lombardi N, Marconi E, Crescioli G, Bonaiuti R, Maggini V, Gallo E, Mugelli A, Firenzuoli F, Ravaldi C, Vannacci A.

Br J Clin Pharmacol. 2018 May 16. doi: 10.1111/bcp.13639.

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