Drug Levels and Effects:

Summary of Use during Lactation:

Limited data indicate that hydromorphone is excreted into breastmilk in small amounts. Maternal use of maximum doses of oral narcotics can cause infant drowsiness. Newborn infants seem to be particularly sensitive to the effects of even small dosages of narcotic analgesics, particularly in the first week of life. Once the mother's milk comes in, it is best to limit maternal intake of oral hydromorphone and to supplement analgesia with a nonnarcotic analgesic if necessary. If the baby shows signs of increased sleepiness (more than usual), difficulty breastfeeding, breathing difficulties, or limpness, a physician should be contacted immediately.

Drug Levels:

In adults, hydromorphone has an oral bioavailability of 62% and is metabolized to inactive metabolites. While not commonly used in infants, an appropriate dose for this age group is 10 mcg/kg parenterally or 30 mcg/kg orally every 4 hours as needed.

Maternal Levels.

Eight lactating women (time postpartum not given) were given a single 2 mg intranasal dose of hydromorphone. Milk was collected 7 times, beginning 2 hours after and ending 24 hours after the dose. Peak milk levels occurred 2 hours after the dose. The half-life of elimination from milk was 10.5 hours. The reported average milk level, over the 24 hour period after the single dose, was about 1 mcg/L. The authors calculated that an exclusively breastfed infant would receive 0.67% of the maternal weight-adjusted dosage.[1] Using the average milk level reported in this study, an exclusively breastfed infant would receive 0.15 mcg/kg daily from a single maternal 2 mg intranasal hydromorphone dose. Intranasal hydromorphone is not currently available in the United States.

Infant Levels.

Relevant published information was not found as of the revision date.

Effects in Breastfed Infants:

Relevant published information was not found as of the revision date.

Possible Effects on Lactation:

Narcotics can increase serum prolactin.[2] However, the prolactin level in a mother with established lactation may not affect her ability to breastfeed.

Alternate Drugs to Consider:



1. Edwards JE, Rudy AC, Wermeling DP et al. Hydromorphone transfer into breast milk after intranasal administration. Pharmacotherapy. 2003;23:153-8. PMID:12587803
2. Tolis G, Dent R, Guyda H. Opiates, prolactin, and the dopamine receptor. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 1978;47:200-3. PMID:263291

Substance Identification:

Substance Name:


CAS Registry Number:


Drug Class:

  • Analgesics, Opioid

  • Narcotics

  • Antitussive Agents

  • Opiates

  • Administrative Information:

    LactMed Record Number:


    Last Revision Date:

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