Drug Safety

, Volume 6, Issue 4, pp 285–301 | Cite as

Risk-Benefit Assessment of Anaesthetic Agents in the Puerperium

  • Jussi Kanto
Review Article Risk-Benefit Assessment


A critical evaluation of anaesthetic agents in the puerperium is difficult because systematic, relevant studies are still lacking. Current knowledge of the effects of different agents used in labour and caesarean section indicates that significant residual effects on the mother and newborn are limited. In the early puerperium, based on physiological and/or hormonal changes, the mother could be more sensitive to inhalational anaesthetic agents and local analgesics. To date there is no evidence that any anaesthetic agent is excreted in breast milk in clinically significant amounts when given as a single dose. The only exception is perhaps in the case of very premature neonates whose mothers have had multidrug therapy before labour. Even then the importance of breast milk should be carefully assessed against possible adverse drug effect. However, repeated administration of long-acting benzodiazepines and continuous epidural administration of pethidine (meperidine) can have adverse effects on the neonate.

The essential conclusion of this review is that breast-feeding is best. The different anaesthetic agents are excreted in the milk in amounts so low that detrimental effects on the neonate should not be expected.


Bupivacaine Breast Milk Anaesthetic Agent Clinical Pharmacokinetic Meperidine 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Adis International Limited 1991

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jussi Kanto
    • 1
  1. 1.Departments of Anaesthesiology and Clinical PharmacologyTurku University HospitalTurkuFinland

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