Last update Sept. 30, 2023

Maternal Leprosy, lepra

Low Risk

Possibly safe. Probably compatible. Mild risk possible. Follow up recommended. Read the Comment.

Leprosy or Hansen's disease is a curable infection caused by the bacillus Mycobacterium leprae. It is not easily contagious. Transmission occurs through long-term close contact with an infected person, possibly through respiratory shedding of organisms. (Red Book 2021-24 p472)
A nursing mother was treated with dapsone, rifampicin, and clofazimine during pregnancy and lactation. The infant's growth and development were normal during the 1-year follow-up period. (Ozturk 2017)

Leprosy is not a contraindication to breastfeeding. If the infant is also infected, the mother and infant should be treated simultaneously and isolation is not necessary. If the infant is not infected, it is advisable to limit mother-infant contact to breastfeeding periods. (Lawrence p416) 

Anti-leprosy drugs are excreted in human milk, but no adverse effects have been reported, except infant skin discoloration due to clofazimine. (Ozturk 2017)

Treatment with dapsone, rifampicin and clofazimine is safe for the infant and mother, regardless of feeding method. (Ozturk 2017, Lawrence p416) 

Multidrug therapy for patients with leprosy should be continued unchanged during pregnancy and lactation. 

See below the information of these related products:

  • Clofazimine (Possibly safe. Probably compatible. Mild risk possible. Follow up recommended. Read the Comment.)
  • Dapsone (Possibly safe. Probably compatible. Mild risk possible. Follow up recommended. Read the Comment.)
  • Rifampicine ( Safe. Compatible. Minimal risk for breastfeeding and infant.)

Suggestions made at e-lactancia are done by APILAM team of health professionals, and are based on updated scientific publications. It is not intended to replace the relationship you have with your doctor but to compound it. The pharmaceutical industry contraindicates breastfeeding, mistakenly and without scientific reasons, in most of the drug data sheets.

Jose Maria Paricio, Founder & President of APILAM/e-Lactancia

Your contribution is essential for this service to continue to exist. We need the generosity of people like you who believe in the benefits of breastfeeding.

Thank you for helping to protect and promote breastfeeding.

José María Paricio, founder of e-lactancia.

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  1. (Red Book). AAP. Kimberlin DW, Barnett ED, , Lynfield R, Sawyer MH eds. Red Book: 2021-2024. Report of the Committee on Infectious Diseases. 32th ed. Elk Grove Village, - 2021
  2. Ozturk Z, Tatliparmak A. Leprosy treatment during pregnancy and breastfeeding: A case report and brief review of literature. Dermatol Ther. 2017 Jan;30(1). Abstract
  3. Lawrence RA, Lawrence RM. Breastfeeding. A guide for the medical profession. Eighth Edition. Philadelphia: Elsevier; 2016
  4. Nogueira PS, Moura ER, Dias AA, Américo CF, Aguiar LR, Valente MM. Characteristics of pregnant and lactating women with leprosy. Rev Soc Bras Med Trop. 2015 Jan-Feb;48(1):96-8. Abstract Full text (link to original source)

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