Skip to Content

Menu Icon
Menu
Menu Icon

Diseases That Affect Breast-Feeding

Topic Overview

Most women with chronic illnesses or infectious diseases can breast-feed.

  • Women with diabetes usually can breast-feed but may need to follow a special diet. They may be able to lower their insulin doses while breast-feeding, because their blood glucose is being used for milk production.
  • Women with cystic fibrosis or phenylketonuria (PKU) must have their milk and their infant's health monitored when breast-feeding.
  • In most cases, breast-feeding is possible when the mother has hepatitis A, chronic hepatitis B or hepatitis C, or cytomegalovirus (CMV).

Other diseases, though, may make breast milk unsafe for the baby. A woman should not breast-feed if she:

  • Is infected with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), because she can pass the virus to her baby in her milk.
  • Has active tuberculosis or some viral infections (such as active, acute hepatitis).
  • Has sores on her breast caused by infections (such as herpes, syphilis, or chickenpox). She will need to wait until the infection has been resolved or successfully treated.

A woman also should not breast-feed if her baby has galactosemia.

A rare hormonal disorder called Sheehan's syndrome makes a woman unable to produce milk or to produce enough milk to feed her baby. Sheehan's syndrome results from severe bleeding (hemorrhaging) immediately after giving birth.

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Sarah Marshall, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Kirtly Jones, MD - Obstetrics and Gynecology
Current as of June 4, 2014

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.

© 1995-2014 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.

Symptom Checker

Feeling under the weather?

Use our interactive symptom checker to evaluate your symptoms and determine appropriate action or treatment.

Decision Points

Our interactive Decision Points guide you through making key health decisions by combining medical information with your personal information.

You'll find Decision Points to help you answer questions about:

Interactive Tools

Get started learning more about your health!

Our Interactive Tools can help you make smart decisions for a healthier life. You'll find personal calculators and tools for health and fitness, lifestyle checkups, and pregnancy.

Health Library