Does consuming alcohol while breastfeeding adversely affect the development of an infant?

Last updated: February 20, 2022
Yes. Both studies in this list that examine the question agreed on this conclusion. We identified both studies as literature reviews, which are studies that review and often evaluate the findings of many studies on a question. This gives us more confidence that the answer is correct.
This short answer was generated by aggregating the answers that each of the studies below gave to the question (as indicated by State of K members) and adjusting for source quality and other factors. If key studies are missing or the answers attributed to individual studies are incorrect, the above answer could be wrong. For medical questions, don't rely on the information here. Consult a medical professional.
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YES ANSWERS
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Chart summary of 2 studies examining this question

All answers are assigned by State of K users. The label Couldn't Identify means that State of K was not able to determine whether a study answers the question "yes" or "no". This could be due to several factors. One possibility is that a study found some evidence to indicate that the answer to the question is "yes" and some evidence to indicate that the answer is "no". This often happens when a study uses two or more proxies to study the same phenomenon (i.e. firearm sales figures and self-reported firearm ownership rates as proxies for the prevalence of firearms) and the proxies yield different results when looking for correlations with another phenomenon (i.e. firearm-related deaths). Alternatively, the label may be applied if the phenomenon under study (i.e. whether breast milk improves cognitive function) is true for one group, but not another (i.e. true for girls, but not for boys). Yet another possibility is that a study found there was insufficient evidence to reach a conclusion regarding the question. Finally, the full text or abstract of a study may not have been written clearly or was inaccessible. This would make it difficult to determine how a study answered a question.

All labels of Literature Reviews and source quality are assigned by State of K. All labels of High Quality Source are assigned based on whether the publication in which the article appeared was ranked as Q1 by Scimago Institutions Rankings. Certain well-regarded think tanks are also given this label.

Literature Reviews
Although we recommend you consider all of the studies below, we believe the following studies are literature reviews, which survey and evaluate many studies on this question:

SUMMARIES OF STUDIES
Total studies in list: 2
Sorted by publication year
1
Is Breast Best? Examining the effects of alcohol and cannabis use during lactation
"Maternal drug use during lactation may have adverse effects on the health of their children. Two common drugs used during this period are alcohol and cannabis. A literature search was conducted using PubMed, CINAHL, Nursing and Allied Health, and Google Scholar with the following search terms: marijuana, cannabis, THC, alcohol, ethanol, breastfeeding, lactation, and breastmilk. The search strategy was restricted to papers since the year 2000, and limited to English language journals. Reference lists were also used to capture any articles that were missed from the database searches. In total, 19 articles were found related to alcohol and breastfeeding (n = 17 original research papers; n = 2 systematic reviews), and 4 articles were specific to cannabis (n = 2 original papers; n = 2 systematic reviews). The most common outcomes associated with alcohol consumption and breastfeeding included changes in sleep patterns, reduced milk production and flow, lower milk intake, and impaired immune function. Maternal outcomes related to cannabis consumption included panic attacks, delayed response time, increased heart rate, reduced short-term memory, dizziness, and impaired motor performance; infant outcomes associated with maternal cannabis use and breastfeeding were reduced muscular tonus, poor sucking, and growth delay and restriction. Mothers should be advised to refrain from substance use during the lactation period for the health and safety of their children."
AUTHOR
Brown, R.A.
PUBLISHED
2018 Journal of Neonatal-Perinatal Medicine,
Literature Review
Yes
Yes
2
Alcohol and lactation: An updated systematic review
"Aim: The aim of this paper is to provide a critical review of the most recent literature from 2005 onwards, on the effect of alcohol intake during lactation on the hormonal control of lactogenesis; breastmilk alcohol concentration; the breastfeeding infant, and on the breastfeeding outcomes of the mother and infant dyad. An update on public policy guiding alcohol consumption during lactation nationally and internationally is explored.Methods: The databases PubMed, CINAHL, Proquest Health and Medical Complete, ScienceDirect, Medline and ISI Web of Knowledge were searched from 2005 onwards.Results: Alcohol inhibits the role of oxytocin in breastfeeding women, resulting in an increased time to milk ejection and a decrease in total breastmilk yield. Breastfeeding women are less likely to consume alcohol at high-risk levels, and drinking at these levels is associated with the early cessation of breastfeeding. A higher level of education and a higher income level are the characteristics of the maternal drinker during lactation.Conclusion: Available public health policy in Australia provides direction for breastfeeding mothers who choose to drink alcohol during this important stage of infant development."
AUTHOR
Roslyn C. GIGLIA
PUBLISHED
2010 Nutrition and Dietetics
Literature Review
Yes
Yes