Publication date: Jul 01, 2023
Exclusive breastfeeding of infants under 6 months of age is recommended by the World Health Organization. In 2021, over 300 million combined incident cases of malaria, tuberculosis, and neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) were reported, predominantly in low-income countries. For many of the drugs used as first-line treatments for these conditions, there is limited knowledge on infant exposure through breastfeeding with poorly understood consequences. This review summarized available knowledge on mother-to-infant transfer of these drugs to inform future lactation pharmacokinetic studies. A list of first-line drugs was generated from the latest WHO treatment guidelines. Using standard online databases, 2 independent reviewers searched for eligible articles reporting lactation pharmacokinetics studies and extracted information on study design, participant characteristics, and the mathematical approach used for parameter estimation. A third reviewer settled any disagreements between the 2 reviewers. All studies were scored against the standardized “ClinPK” checklist for conformity to best practices for reporting clinical pharmacokinetic studies. Simple proportions were used to summarize different study characteristics. The most remarkable finding was the scarcity of lactation pharmacokinetic data. Only 15 of the 69 drugs we listed had lactation pharmacokinetics fully characterized. Most studies enrolled few mothers, and only one evaluated infant drug concentrations. Up to 66% of the studies used non-compartmental analysis to estimate pharmacokinetic parameters rather than model-based compartmental analysis. Unlike non-compartmental approaches, model-based compartmental analysis provides for dynamic characterization of individual plasma and breast milk concentration-time profiles and adequately characterizes variability within and between individuals, using sparsely sampled data. The “ClinPK” checklist inadequately appraised the studies with variability in the number of relevant criteria across different studies. A consensus is required on best practices for conducting and reporting lactation pharmacokinetic studies, especially in neglected diseases such as malaria, tuberculosis, and NTDs, to optimize treatment of mother-infant pairs.
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