Liothyronine use while Breastfeeding
Drugs containing Liothyronine: Cytomel, Triostat
Liothyronine Levels and Effects while Breastfeeding
Summary of Use during Lactation
Liothyronine (T3) is a normal component of human milk. If replacement doses of liothyronine are required by the mother, it is not necessarily a reason to discontinue breastfeeding. However, because no information is available on the use of exogenous liothyronine during breastfeeding, an alternate drug may be preferred. The American Thyroid Association recommends that subclinical and overt hypothyroidism should be treated with levothyroxine in lactating women seeking to breastfeed. Liothyronine dosage requirement may be increased in the postpartum period compared to prepregnancy requirements patients with Hashimoto's thyroiditis.
Milk levels of liothyronine have not been measured after exogenous administration of T3 in humans. Liothyronine is a normal component of human milk. Although somewhat controversial, liothyronine, unlike levothyroxine (T4), might pass into milk in amounts that affect infant thyroid status.
Maternal Levels. In a study of 56 mothers with thyroid disorders, 50 had hypothyroidism and were being treated with levothyroxine; 5 mothers had controlled hyperthyroidism with no medications and 1 had hyperthyroidism treated with a medication. Milk levels of thyroid hormones were free T4 4.5 ng/L, total T4 29.6 mcg/L, free T3 2.3 ng/L and total T3 0.35 mcg/L. The average milk to serum level ratios over the period were free T4 0.32, total T4 0.3, free T3 0.78 and total T3 0.26. Levels of free and total T3 and total T4 in milk were positively correlated with their respective plasma levels.
Infant Levels. Relevant published information was not found as of the revision date.
Effects in Breastfed Infants
Relevant published information was not found as of the revision date. However, the thyroid hormone content of human milk from the mothers of very preterm infants appears not to be sufficient to affect the infants thyroid status.
Effects on Lactation and Breastmilk
Adequate thyroid hormone serum levels are required for normal lactation. Replacing deficient thyroid levels should improve milk production caused by hypothyroidism. Supraphysiologic doses of liothyronine would not be expected to further improve lactation.
Alternate Drugs to Consider
1. Alexander EK, Pearce EN, Brent GA et al. 2016 Guidelines of the American Thyroid Association for the Diagnosis and Management of Thyroid Disease during Pregnancy and the Postpartum. Thyroid. 2017. PMID: 28056690
2. Galofre JC, Haber RS, Mitchell AA et al. Increased postpartum thyroxine replacement in Hashimoto's thyroiditis. Thyroid. 2010;20:901-8. PMID: 20615129
3. Sato T, Suzuki Y. Presence of triiodothyronine, no detectable thyroxine and reverse triiodothyronine in human milk. Endocrinol Jpn. 1979;26:507-13. PMID: 499092
4. Varma SK, Collins M, Row A et al. Thyroxine, tri-iodothyronine, and reverse tri-iodothyronine concentrations in human milk. J Pediatr. 1978;93:803-6. PMID: 712487
5. Mallol J, Obregon MJ, Morreale de Escobar GM. Analytical artifacts in radioimmunoassay of L-thyroxin in human milk. Clin Chem. 1982;28:1277-82. PMID: 7074933
6. Oberkotter LV, Tenore A. Separation and radioimmunoassay of T3 and T4 in human breast milk. Horm Res. 1983;17:11-8. PMID: 6551313
7. Koldovsky O. Hormones in milk. Vitam Horm. 1995;50:77-149. PMID: 7709605
8. Zhang Q, Lian XL, Chai XF et al. [Relationship between maternal milk and serum thyroid hormones in patients with thyroid related diseases.]. Zhongguo Yi Xue Ke Xue Yuan Xue Bao. 2013;35:427-31. PMID: 23987491
9. van Wassenaer AG, Stulp MR, Valianpour F et al. The quantity of thyroid hormone in human milk is too low to influence plasma thyroid hormone levels in the very preterm infant. Clin Endocrinol. 2002;56:621-7. PMID: 12030913
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Information presented in this database is not meant as a substitute for professional judgment. You should consult your healthcare provider for breastfeeding advice related to your particular situation. The U.S. government does not warrant or assume any liability or responsibility for the accuracy or completeness of the information on this Site.
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