The active ingredient in Metrogel (metronidazole gel) does pass through breast milk. Although no significant side effects have been reported in nursing infants, the manufacturer recommends that women not use Metrogel while breastfeeding. There is some concern that this drug could increase the risk for childhood cancer.
Can Breastfeeding Women Use Metrogel?
Metrogel® (metronidazole gel) passes through breast milk in humans. There is some concern about the carcinogenic (cancer-causing) potential of metronidazole (the active ingredient in Metrogel), especially when young children are exposed to it.
If you are breastfeeding or plan to start, you should talk with your healthcare provider before using Metrogel. The manufacturer recommends that women not use this product while nursing.
More Information on Metrogel and Breastfeeding
Studies have shown that metronidazole passes through breast milk. No significant side effects in the infants have been reported due to maternal use of metronidazole. However, there is a theoretical risk of childhood (or even adult) cancer due to exposure through breast milk. Metronidazole increases the risk of certain cancers in mice and rats; it is unknown if the same is true for humans.
Keep in mind that the levels found in breast milk after using metronidazole skin products, including Metrogel, are probably quite low, much lower than would be found after taking metronidazole by mouth.
If your healthcare provider recommends using Metrogel while breastfeeding, be sure to watch for any potential problems, especially diarrhea, thrush, or yeast infections, which have been reported in infants exposed to metronidazole through breast milk.
Talking With Your Healthcare Provider
You should discuss breastfeeding and Metrogel use with your healthcare provider. Each woman's situation is different, and you and your healthcare provider understand your situation best. After considering what you want and expect, as well as your current health situation, the two of you can make a shared decision that is right for you.
Written by/reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last reviewed by: KristiMonson, PharmD;
List of references (click here):
Metrogel [package insert]. Fort Worth, TX: Galderma Laboratories, L.P.;2011 October.
Metronidazole Gel [package insert]. South Plainfield, NJ: G&W Laboratories, Inc.;2011 February.
National Library of Medicine (US). Drugs and Lactation Database (LactMED). NLM Web site. Available at: http://toxnet.nlm.nih.gov/cgi-bin/sis/htmlgen?LACT. Accessed January 20, 2012.
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