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Baby Dies From Toxic Breast Milk

Codeine prescribed for postnatal pain can produce deadly concentrations of morphine in breast milk.

A lawsuit over the death of Toronto newborn Tariq Jamieson, who died as a result of opiate toxicity in his mother's breast milk, has renewed the debate over prescribing such drugs as Tylenol 3 to breastfeeding mothers.

Tariq's mother Rani was prescribed Tylenol 3 for lingering episiotomy pain. Although Tariq was initially healthy, he developed increasing lethargy after the seven-day mark, and after 11 days he was brought to a pediatrician due to concerns about his skin color and poor feeding. Two days later, Tariq died.

Tariq was found to have high blood levels of acetaminophen, and a blood concentration of morphine six times higher than would normally be considered safe in a neonate. Tylenol 3 contains both acetaminophen and codeine, which is metabolized to morphine in the body. However, not everyone metabolizes codeine at the same rate. Rani Jamieson was an ultra-rapid metabolizer of codeine to morphine, which means that the opiate built up in her breastmilk very fast.

While ultra-rapid metabolization of codeine occurs in about 1 percent of Caucasians, it occurs in as much as 30 percent of some African and Asian populations.

National Review of Medicine June 15, 2007

Dr. Mercola's Comment:

Mothers must use extreme caution when taking any drugs while breastfeeding, because those drugs could be transferred to your baby.

Prescription drugs like Tylenol 3 are not the only danger. The excessive acetaminophen you can get from regular Tylenol, even without the codeine, can be extremely dangerous. Because some 5 billion over-the-counter medications are sold in the United States annually, many believe they're safe.

But you, or your baby, could suffer from serious side effects and possibly die unintentionally if you don't take them with the proper care.

Even environmental chemicals like rocket fuel are sadly now being found in breast milk. But nonetheless, breastfeeding is without a doubt the healthiest way to feed your baby. Breastfed infants have added protection against:

  • Heart disease
  • Immune system cancers such as lymphoma
  • Bowel diseases such as Crohn's disease
  • Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis
  • Asthma and allergies

So although this child died from breastfeeding, that in no way discounts its value as breastfeeding is not only incredibly good for your baby, it's good for moms, too!

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