Review of LactMed for iPhone and Android

Is your breastfeeding patient suffering from pain, an illness, or a short-term problem such as allergies? Can you remember which drugs are safe for her to take? Or maybe you are caring for a breastfed infant and his or her mother asks whether her medications could impact your patient.

LactMed is a peer-reviewed database containing information about drugs and chemicals for breastfeeding mothers and the clinicians who provide care for them. LactMed describes potential adverse effects of drugs and chemicals on infants of breastfeeding mothers and details the levels of the drugs and chemicals in breast milk and infant blood.

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LactMed has long been available through the US National Library of Medicine’s TOXNET platform, but is also available as a downloadable app for iPhone and Android and as a mobile website.

While it’s a simple, straightforward app, a lot of work has gone in behind the scenes to ensure that the information is accurate, updated, and high quality. The content is compiled and summarized by two pharmacy professors and peer review is provided by a team of doctors, pharmacists, and other subject specialists. Content is drawn from the scientific literature and is updated monthly.

You can search the LactMed app by drug name or drug class. For drug name, both trade and generic names are included, making the list a little long to browse.

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Searching for drug classes is not as fully functional as it is in LactMed online. While you can search for words in the drug class name, the search does not look for synonyms, words in other fields of the record, or abbreviations. For example, you cannot search for the abbreviation SSRIs. A good practice is to search for full words. Results auto-populate as you type, so it is not too cumbersome.

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Once you open a drug record, you can skip directly to a section, such as “Effects in Infants,” “Effects on Lactation,” or “Drug Levels.” The “Summary of Use” section provides an excellent overview and should not be skipped.

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“Alternate Drugs” links you to drugs that may have a better safety profile for breastfeeding mothers.

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“References” include PMID numbers and clicking on the linked PMIDs bring the citation and abstract from the mobile PubMed site into the LactMed app. Full text is often linked at the bottom of the abstract, though access will depend on your subscriptions, institutional affiliations, and availability of open access for that article.

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To confirm the timeliness of the content, you’ll need to view the full record, which contains the last revision date at the very bottom.

The database contains records for many over-the-counter drugs, supplements, and herbals. You can browse available herbals in the Complementary Therapies drug class.

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Drug records are accessible even when your device is offline, adding to this app’s utility in remote clinics and other locations with poor connectivity.

Evidence Behind the App

Content is drawn from the scientific literature by two Pharmacy professors. All content is peer reviewed.

A mobile web version of the app is also available.

  • Price
    • Free
    • High quality information is easy to find and digest.
  • Dislikes
    • Data is not available for every drug. While this isn’t the fault of the app, it may be frustrating for some users to look up a drug and find it hasn’t been studied.
    • Search within the app is less robust than in the online version.
  • Overall

    Overall, this is an app with high quality information that would likely prove useful to any clinicians caring for either women of childbearing / breastfeeding age or their children. While written for clinicians, it may also be a useful app for motivated breastfeeding mothers for use in consultation with their doctors.

    While a mobile web version of the content is available, the app may be preferable for clinicians in remote or low connectivity locations.

  • Overall Score
  • User Interface

    The user interface is simple but intuitive.

  • Multimedia Usage
    • N/A
  • Price
  • Real World Applicability
  • Available for DownloadAndroidiPhoneiPad