Skip directly to search Skip directly to A to Z list Skip directly to navigation Skip directly to page options Skip directly to site content

Diseases and Conditions

Photo: A woman breastfeeding When should a mother avoid breastfeeding?

Health professionals agree that human milk provides the most complete form of nutrition for infants, including premature and sick newborns. However, there are rare exceptions when human milk is not recommended. Under certain circumstances, a physician will need to make a case-by-case assessment to determine whether a woman’s environmental exposure or her own medical condition warrants her to interrupt or stop breastfeeding.

Breastfeeding is NOT advisable if one or more of the following conditions is true:

  1. An infant diagnosed with galactosemia, a rare genetic metabolic disorder
  2. The infant whose mother:
    • Has been infected with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)
    • Is taking antiretroviral medications
    • Has untreated, active tuberculosis
    • Is infected with human T-cell lymphotropic virus type I or type II
    • Is using or is dependent upon an illicit drug
    • Is taking prescribed cancer chemotherapy agents, such as antimetabolites that interfere with DNA replication and cell division
    • Is undergoing radiation therapies; however, such nuclear medicine therapies require only a temporary interruption in breastfeeding

For additional information, visit American Academy of Pediatrics’ Breastfeeding and the Use of Human Milk [PDF-797KB] or read: American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Drugs. (2013) The Transfer of Drugs and Therapeutics Into Human Breast Milk: An Update on Selected Topics [PDF-767KB]. Pediatrics 132(3):e796-e809.

For information regarding substances and conditions which affect human milk, read Lawrence RA, Lawrence R. (2016) Breastfeeding: A guide for the medical profession, 8th Edition.

Specific Diseases and Conditions

 Top of Page