Contrast media and breast feeding

Contrast media and breastfeeding is an area of imaging safety that has been investigated for both CT and MRI contrast agents. The current guidelines do not support the cessation of breastfeeding or any special precautions after CT and MRI intravenous contrast media administration.

CT contrast agents

The plasma half-life of IV CT contrast agents is 2 hours, with ~100% excreted in 24 hours. Contrast agents have poor lipid solubility and <1% of dose enters breast milk. Furthermore <1% of this ingested dose is absorbed the infant's gastrointestinal system. The total dose to the infant is <0.01%.

There is a theoretical risk of allergic reaction to contrast from breast milk, but this has never been reported:

  • current guidelines do not support the cessation of breastfeeding after contrast administration
  • a conservative approach, only if the mother remains concerned about any potential effects, may wait 12-24 hours, expressing and discarding milk over that period, but there is no benefit to waiting >24 hours

MRI contrast agents

The plasma half-life of IV MRI contrast agents is 2 hours, with ~100% excreted in 24 hours. It is estimated that <0.0004% of the maternal dose is absorbed by the infant, and it is also thought that any gadolinium in breast milk is in a stable chelated form:

  • current guidelines do not support the cessation of breastfeeding after contrast administration
  • a conservative approach, only if the mother remains concerned about any potential effects, may wait 12-24 hours, expressing and discarding milk over that period, but there is no benefit to waiting >24 hours
MRI physics
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Article information

rID: 33488
Section: Physics
Tag: safety
Synonyms or Alternate Spellings:

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