Which Vaccines Are Safe For Breastfeeding Women?

Routine vaccinations while breastfeeding do not cause harm to mothers or infants
new born baby swaddled in a blanket
(Precision Vaccinations)

A new article offers a comprehensive overview of the potential health risks to breastfeeding women who receive vaccines. 

This article determined that ‘smallpox and, in some circumstances yellow fever vaccines, are the only vaccines having the potential to cause harm to infants and should be avoided in nursing mothers.’ 

In "Maternal Vaccination and Breastfeeding," Philip Anderson, PharmD, University of California San Diego, Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, reviewed all of the most common types of vaccines, including inactivated and live attenuated types for the unsubstantiated concern that they would cause harm to a nursing infant or interfere with the infant's response to early childhood vaccinations. 

"As Dr. Anderson concludes, there are no risks associated with giving breastfeeding mothers routine and most other standard vaccinations, including measles," says Arthur I. Eidelman, MD, Editor-in-Chief of Breastfeeding Medicine, in a press release. 

These benefits include the transfer to the infant of maternal antibodies and an enhanced antibody response and less vaccine-related fever following infant vaccination, as Dr. Eidelman explains in the accompanying editorial entitled "Guidelines for Vaccinating Breastfeeding Mothers." 

Included in the scope of Dr. Anderson's review are routine vaccines such as influenza, diphtheria, pertussis and tetanus (DPT), varicella and measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR). 

Dr. Eidelman further notes that "not only is there no harm in administering routine vaccinations to breastfeeding mothers, but one can and should include nursing mothers in any emergency measles immunization campaign, such as the recent emergency declared by the New York City Health Department." 

The article also focuses on vaccines related to the exposure or special risk factors, such as hepatitis A or hepatitis B, and specialty vaccines including cholera, yellow fever, smallpox, rabies, and typhoid. 

During 2016, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said in a ‘Risk to a developing fetus from vaccination of the mother during pregnancy is theoretical.’ 

‘No evidence exists of risk to the fetus from vaccinating pregnant women with inactivated virus or bacterial vaccines or toxoids.’ 

‘Live vaccines administered to a pregnant woman pose a theoretical risk to the fetus; therefore, live, attenuated virus and live bacterial vaccines generally are contraindicated during pregnancy.’   

Relevant Links:  CDC vaccination schedules, CDC vaccine price list, international travel alerts, and report vaccine side effects.