Morphine excretion in breast milk and resultant exposure of a nursing infant

Isabelle Robieux, Gideon Koren, Hilda Vandenbergh, Joyce Schneiderman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

61 Scopus citations


We report the case of an infant who was breastfed while his mother was receiving low doses of morphine. Morphine concentration in his serum was in the analgesic range (4 ng/ml), while concentrations in the milk varied substantially in three samples collected within 2 hours (10, 100, 12 ng/ml). The calculated dose that the infant must have received to achieve the observed serum concentration had to be between 0.8 to 12% of maternal dose, based on reference literature values of clearance and bioavailability. The current perception that maternal morphine exposure is safe for the breastfed infant is based on 50 year old data which were determined by an analytical method 1000 fold less sensitive than the present HPLC, thus leading to a likely erroneous conclusion.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)365-370
Number of pages6
JournalClinical Toxicology
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1990
Externally publishedYes


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