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Alprazolam use while Breastfeeding

Drugs containing Alprazolam: Xanax, Xanax XR, Alprazolam Intensol, Niravam

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Apr 20, 2020.

Alprazolam Levels and Effects while Breastfeeding

Summary of Use during Lactation

Because of reports of effects in infants, including sedation, alprazolam is probably not the best benzodiazepine for repeated use during nursing, especially with a neonate or premature infant. A shorter-acting benzodiazepine without active metabolites is preferred. After a single dose of alprazolam, there is usually no need to wait to resume breastfeeding.

Drug Levels

Maternal Levels. Eight lactating women who averaged 11.8 weeks postpartum (range 6 to 28 weeks) were given a single 0.5 mg dose of alprazolam orally. Eleven breastmilk samples were obtained over the 36 hours after the dose. A mean peak alprazolam milk level of 3.7 mcg/L occurred at an average of 1.1 hours (range 0.47 to 3.8 hours) after the dose. The half-life of alprazolam in milk averaged 14.5 hours. The metabolites 4-hydroxyalprazolam and alpha-hydroxyalprazolam were not detected (<0.5 to 1 mcg/L) in milk. The authors calculated that an exclusively breastfed infant whose mother was taking alprazolam in the normal dosage range would receive a daily dosage of 0.5 to 5 mcg/kg or about 3% of the maternal weight-adjusted dosage.[1]

A lactating woman was taking alprazolam and donated milk samples before a dose and 2 hours after a dose at day 3 postpartum and at 1 month postpartum. At 3 days postpartum, she was taking 0.8 mg daily. Her trough milk alprazolam concentration was 2.78 mcg/L and 2-hour milk level was 3.4 mcg/L. At 1 month postpartum, she was taking 1 mg daily and her 2-hour milk level was 5.42 mcg/L. No metabolites were detected in breastmilk.[2]

Infant Levels. Relevant published information was not found as of the revision date.

Effects in Breastfed Infants

Increased infant irritability following withdrawal of breastfeeding occurred in a 1-week-old infant whose mother had taken alprazolam during pregnancy and continued to take it after delivery. This reaction probably indicates that there was sufficient alprazolam in breastmilk to prevent withdrawal. The authors reported correspondence with the manufacturer who stated that they had received spontaneous reports of infant withdrawal symptoms (crying, irritability and sleep disturbances) for 2 weeks in a 9-month-old exclusively breastfed infant after slow (over 3 weeks) maternal discontinuation of alprazolam (dosage unspecified).[3]

In one telephone follow-up study of 5 infants (ages not stated) exposed to alprazolam during breastfeeding, 1 mother reported drowsiness in her infant. The reaction did not require medical attention.[4]

In a telephone follow-up study, 124 mothers who took a benzodiazepine while nursing reported whether their infants had any signs of sedation. About 5% of mothers were taking alprazolam. One mother who was taking sertraline 50 mg daily, zopiclone 2.5 mg about every 3 days as needed, and also took alprazolam 0.25 mg on 2 occasions, reported sedation in her breastfed infant.[5]

Effects on Lactation and Breastmilk

Unlike other benzodiazepines, alprazolam can increase serum prolactin.[6][7] One woman developed galactorrhea, amenorrhea and elevated serum prolactin after taking 3 mg of sustained-release alprazolam and 5 to 6 mg of immediate-release alprazolam daily for several months for self-treatment of fear, poor sleep, palpitations and gastrointestinal discomfort. After slow discontinuation of alprazolam and institution of quetiapine and fluvoxamine, galactorrhea ceased after about one month, menses normalized after about 2 months, and serum prolactin decreased to a normal level.[8] The prolactin level in a mother with established lactation may not affect her ability to breastfeed.

Alternate Drugs to Consider

Lorazepam, Oxazepam


Oo CY, Kuhn RJ, Desai N et al. Pharmacokinetics in lactating women: prediction of alprazolam transfer into milk. Br J Clin Pharmacol. 1995;40:231-6. [PMC free article: PMC1365102] [PubMed: 8527284]
Furugen A, Nishimura A, Kobayashi M et al. Quantification of eight benzodiazepines in human breastmilk and plasma by liquid-liquid extraction and liquid-chromatography tandem mass spectrometry: Application to evaluation of alprazolam transfer into breastmilk. J Pharm Biomed Anal. 2019;168:83-93. [PubMed: 30798209]
Anderson PO, McGuire GG. Neonatal alprazolam withdrawal -- possible effects of breast feeding. DICP. 1989;23:614. Letter. [PubMed: 2763587]
Ito S, Blajchman A, Stephenson M et al. Prospective follow-up of adverse reactions in breast-fed infants exposed to maternal medication. Am J Obstet Gynecol. 1993;168:1393-9. [PubMed: 8498418]
Kelly LE, Poon S, Madadi P, Koren G. Neonatal benzodiazepines exposure during breastfeeding. J Pediatr. 2012;161:448-51. [PubMed: 22504099]
Zemishlany Z, McQueeney R, Gabriel SM, Davidson M. Neuroendocrine and monoaminergic responses to acute administration of alprazolam in normal subjects. Neuropsychobiology. 1990-1991;23:124-8. [PubMed: 2098668]
Madhusoodanan S, Parida S, Jimenez C. Hyperprolactinemia associated with psychotropics--a review. Hum Psychopharmacol. 2010;25:281-97. [PubMed: 20521318]
Petric D, Peitl MV, Peitl V. High doses alprazolam induced amenorrhoea and galactorrhoea. Psychiatr Danub. 2011;23:123-4. [PubMed: 21448116]

Substance Identification

Substance Name


CAS Registry Number


Drug Class

  • Breast Feeding
  • Lactation
  • Hypnotics and Sedatives
  • Anti-Anxiety Agents
  • Benzodiazepines

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Further information

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