Cetirizine use while Breastfeeding
Drugs containing Cetirizine: Zyrtec, Zyrtec-D, Equate Allergy Relief, Aller-Tec, Cetiri D, All Day Allergy, Allergy D-12, All Day Allergy-D, Children's Zyrtec, Wal-Zyr D, Show all 22 »Zyrtec-D 12 Hour, Zerviate, 12 Hour Allergy-D, Up and Up All Day Allergy Relief D, KS Aller-Tec D-12, Aller-Tec Children's, Alleroff, Zyrtec Hives, Children's Allergy Relief, All Day Allergy Children's, PediaCare Children's 24-Hour Allergy, Allergy Relief D
Medically reviewed on June 4, 2018
Cetirizine Levels and Effects while Breastfeeding
Summary of Use during Lactation
Small occasional doses of cetirizine are probably acceptable during breastfeeding. Larger doses or more prolonged use may cause drowsiness and other effects in the infant or decrease the milk supply, particularly in combination with a sympathomimetic such as pseudoephedrine or before lactation is well established. The British Society for Allergy and Clinical Immunology recommends cetirizine at its lowest dose as a preferred choice if an antihistamine is required during breastfeeding. Cetirizine has been used successfully in cases of persistent pain of the breast during breastfeeding.
Ophthalmic use of cetirizine by the mother should pose little risk to the breastfed infant. To substantially diminish the amount of drug that reaches the breastmilk after using eye drops, place pressure over the tear duct by the corner of the eye for 1 minute or more, then remove the excess solution with an absorbent tissue.
Maternal Levels. Relevant published information was not found as of the revision date.
Infant Levels. Relevant published information was not found as of the revision date.
Effects in Breastfed Infants
In one telephone follow-up study, mothers reported irritability and colicky symptoms 10% of infants exposed to various antihistamines and drowsiness was reported in 1.6% of infants. None of the reactions required medical attention.
A woman who was nursing (extent not stated) her newborn infant was treated for pemphigus with oral prednisolone 25 mg daily, with the dosage increased over 2 weeks to 60 mg daily. She was also taking cetirizine 10 mg daily and topical betamethasone 0.1% twice daily to the lesions. Because of a poor response, the betamethasone was changed to clobetasol propionate ointment 0.05%. She continued breastfeeding throughout treatment and her infant was developing normally at 8 weeks of age and beyond.
A woman with narcolepsy took sodium oxybate 4 grams each night at 10 pm and 2 am as well as fluoxetine 20 mg and cetirizine 5 mg daily throughout pregnancy and postpartum. She breastfed her infant except for 4 hours after the 10 pm oxybate dose and 4 hours after the 2 am dose. She either pumped breastmilk or breastfed her infant just before each dose of oxybate. The infant was exclusively breastfed or breastmilk fed for 6 months when solids were introduced. The infant was evaluated at 2, 4 and 6 months with the Ages and Stages Questionnaires, which were withing the normal range as were the infant's growth and pediatrician's clinical impressions regarding the infant's growth and development.
Effects on Lactation and Breastmilk
Antihistamines in relatively high doses given by injection can decrease basal serum prolactin in nonlactating women and in early postpartum women. However, suckling-induced prolactin secretion is not affected by antihistamine pretreatment of postpartum mothers. Whether lower oral doses of cetirizine have the same effect on serum prolactin or whether the effects on prolactin have any consequences on breastfeeding success have not been studied. The prolactin level in a mother with established lactation may not affect her ability to breastfeed.
Alternate Drugs to Consider
1. Powell RJ, Du Toit GL, Siddique N et al. BSACI guidelines for the management of chronic urticaria and angio-oedema. Clin Exp Allergy. 2007;37:631-50. PMID: 17456211
2. Muddana A, Asbill DT, Jerath MR et al. Quantitative sensory testing, antihistamines, and beta-blockers for management of persistent breast pain: A case series. Breastfeed Med. 2018;13:275-80. PMID: 29630399
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4. Westermann L, Hugel R, Meier M et al. Glucocorticosteroid-resistant pemphigoid gestationis: successful treatment with adjuvant immunoadsorption. J Dermatol. 2012;39:168-71. PMID: 22379622
5. Gashlin LZ, Sullo D, Lawrence RA et al. Treatment of narcolepsy with sodium oxybate while breastfeeding: A case report. Breastfeed Med. 2016;11:261-3. PMID: 27057786
6. Messinis IE, Souvatzoglou A, Fais N et al. Histamine H1 receptor participation in the control of prolactin secretion in postpartum. J Endocrinol Invest. 1985;8:143-6. PMID: 3928731
7. Pontiroli AE, De Castro e Silva E, Mazzoleni F et al. The effect of histamine and H1 and H2 receptors on prolactin and luteinizing hormone release in humans: sex differences and the role of stress. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 1981;52:924-8. PMID: 7228996
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