Lindane use while Breastfeeding
Medically reviewed on September 8, 2017.
Lindane Levels and Effects while Breastfeeding
Summary of Use during Lactation
Topical application of lindane can increase lindane milk levels for at least several days. Because it is potentially toxic in infants, is a persistent environmental contaminant, and possibly has estrogenic effects that could decrease lactation as well as affect the nursing infant, another agent is preferred.
Lindane (gamma-benzenehexachloride; hexachlorocyclohexane, gamma isomer) is a fat-soluble insecticide that is a persistent environmental contaminant. Residues from its use as a pesticide are found in food and subsequently in breastmilk, particularly the milkfat. Recent data from the United States are lacking, but levels appear to be trending downward in industrialized countries. Hexachlorocyclohexane appears to have some estrogenic activity.
Maternal Levels. A German woman with a 2-month-old breastfed infant was treated with lindane 0.3% lotion (the product available in the United States contains 1%) for scabies. The lotion was left on for 24 hours, then washed off. The extent of application was not stated, but is usually applied to all skin from the neck down. A baseline lindane concentration in breastmilk was not obtained, but the average value of lindane in mothers' milk in Germany from pesticides in the food chain at the time of the study was 30 mcg/kg of milk fat. Milk from day 4 to 10 contained lindane in the range of 500 to 900 mcg/kg of milk fat. After another repeat application of lindane, lindane was found in aa concentration of 2000 mcg/kg on day 11. Additional measurements on days 18 and 26 were 600 mcg/kg and 400 mcg/kg, respectively.
Infant Levels. Relevant published information was not found as of the revision date.
Effects in Breastfed Infants
In a telephone follow-up study, 9 mothers used lindane topically for head lice during breastfeeding. One reported irritability in her breastfed infant.
Effects on Lactation and Breastmilk
Hexachlorocyclohexane appears to have some estrogenic activity which could suppress lactation.
Alternate Drugs to Consider
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2. Morin AK, Stoukides CA. Scabicides and pediculocides and breastfeeding. J Hum Lact. 1994;10:267-8. PMID: 7619283
3. Butler DC, Heller MM, Murase JE. Safety of dermatologic medications in pregnancy and lactation: Part II Lactation. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2014;70:417.e1-417.e10. PMID: 24528912
4. Workowski KA, Bolan GA. Sexually transmitted diseases treatment guidelines, 2015. MMWR Recomm Rep. 2015;64:1-137. PMID: 26042815
5. LaKind JS, Amina Wilkins A, Berlin CM Jr. Environmental chemicals in human milk: a review of levels, infant exposures and health, and guidance for future research. Toxicol Appl Pharmacol. 2004;198:184-208. PMID: 15236953
6. Massart F, Harrell JC, Federico G, Saggese G. Human breast milk and xenoestrogen exposure: a possible impact on human health. J Perinatol. 2005;25:282-8. PMID: 15605068
7. Senger VE, Menzel I, Holzmann H. [Therapy-induced lindane concentration in breast milk]. Derm Beruf Umwelt. 1989;37:167-70. PMID: 2478352
8. Ito S, Blajchman A, Stephenson M, Eliopoulos C, Koren G. Prospective follow-up of adverse reactions in breast-fed infants exposed to maternal medication. Am J Obstet Gynecol. 1993;168:1393-9. PMID: 8498418
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