BC Women’s Hospital selected as Canadian site of an American research trial


The Women’s Health Research Institute (WHRI) is excited to announce that BC Women’s Hospital + Health Centre (BCWH) has been selected as one of four Canadian sites to participate in a large-scale NIH-funded study entitled “Pharmacokinetics and Safety of Commonly Used Drugs in Lactating Women and Breastfed Infants”. The study is being conducted by the Pediatric Trials Network (PTN), and is being led by Dr. Kevin Watt and the Duke Clinical Research Institute (DCRI).

Many drugs are prescribed to women during lactation based off of a historical absence of observed adverse effects on the newborn. Although most of these medications are likely safe for use during breastfeeding and are often indicated for maternal health reasons, there has been no systemic evaluation of the pharmacokinetics associated with these drugs or its excretion into breastmilk.

To bridge this knowledge gap, researchers will assess the transfer of drugs from mother to child via breastmilk by monitoring drug levels in the mother’s blood, breastmilk, and the child’s blood.  The study will begin with the testing of ten commonly used medications including those used for high blood pressure, infections and depression.  The study will continue to include other medications as long as funding continues.

Dr. Wee-Shian Chan, Site PI, explains that BCWH is in a unique position to contribute and recruit pregnant and breastfeeding patients for this study because of its provincial role in managing high-risk pregnancies and the high rates of breastfeeding at BCWH.

This study will significantly change how we counsel and prescribe medications to breastfeeding patients to ensure best outcomes for both mother and child.