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Erbitux and Breastfeeding

Although Erbitux (cetuximab) has not been studied fully in breastfeeding women, it could potentially pass through breast milk and could have serious consequences on a nursing infant. Therefore, the manufacturer recommends women avoid breastfeeding during treatment and for 60 days thereafter. Each woman's situation is different, however, and should be discussed with a healthcare provider.

Is Using Erbitux While Breastfeeding Safe?

Erbitux® (cetuximab) is a prescription medication approved to be used alone or in combination with radiation therapy or another anti-cancer medication to treat cancer of the head and neck. It is also approved for use alone or in combination with another medication to treat colorectal cancer (cancer of the colon and rectum). It is not known whether Erbitux passes through breast milk.

More Information on Breastfeeding and Erbitux

Very little information is available on the use of Erbitux during breastfeeding. The medication has not been adequately studied in nursing women. Therefore, it is not known whether it would pass through human breast milk or whether it causes harm to a breastfeeding child.
Erbitux is a type of human antibody (a protein made by the immune system) known as immunoglobulin G (IgG). Natural IgG passes through human breast milk, but usually only in small amounts. Therefore, it is possible that Erbitux may pass through breast milk to some degree.
Even if Erbitux is found in breast milk, it is unclear how much, if any, would reach a nursing child. The absorption of IgG from the digestive tract is usually limited, which is why the drug cannot be taken by mouth.
Erbitux is associated with potentially serious side effects, which could be harmful to a nursing infant. Although it is not clear at this point whether Erbitux would actually cause harm to a breastfeeding baby, until more research is done, all possible risks cannot be ruled out. Because of the possible risks, the manufacturer recommends that women not breastfeed during Erbitux treatment and for at least 60 days after the last dose.
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