“Domperidone, which blocks dopamine in the brain, is approved in Canada as an aid to speed up digestion, but it also has a side effect: lactation. Doctors and midwives routinely prescribe it off-label for this purpose. More than 120 million prescriptions for domperidone were filled in 2020, according to Health Canada.
Thousands of mothers describe it in online forums as a wonder drug that helped them produce enough milk to breastfeed their babies.
‘It kind of sounded like a miracle drug,’ said Emily Matreal, 29, who lives just outside Detroit and took domperidone in 2021 to help her breastfeed her son, Conner.
Health Canada told CBC that although the agency is aware the drug is routinely prescribed to stimulate lactation, it is not approved for that purpose.
CBC spoke with nine women in Canada, the U.S. and Australia who say they had debilitating psychological side effects when they tried to come off the drug. They described extreme anxiety, panic attacks, insomnia and intrusive thoughts so severe they were left unable to function or care for their children, often for months. Some were forced to stop working or move in with family. At least one attempted to take her own life. They all say no one warned them these things could happen.
Multiple experts interviewed by CBC said they believe such side-effects are rare.
- How this N.S. mom’s struggles with breastfeeding inspired her to help others
- Domperidone safety alert issued by Health Canada
‘It’s very unpredictable,’ said researcher Janet Currie, who wrote her doctoral thesis on postpartum domperidone prescriptions in British Columbia. She says she’s helped between 15 and 20 postpartum women with severe psychological side effects slowly taper off the drug in the last year.
‘No one can tell you exactly in advance whether you’ll have these symptoms and how intense they will be.’
Domperidone is not approved as a lactation aid anywhere in the world and there are no large-scale clinical trials that shed any light on how often these side effects occur.”
Learn more via Banned in the U.S., not approved for breastfeeding — why are so many moms taking this drug? via CBC News,