Hannah Lynes

NHS information on MRI scans and breastfeeding

The Breastfeeding Network says that after an MRI or CT scan with contrast dye, it’s fine to continue breastfeeding. However, NHS hospital policies or patient information sometimes state that women need to stop breastfeeding for 24 hours after the scan, which can be practically difficult and can present health risks for mother and baby. I’ve searched for online information from NHS hospitals regarding breastfeeding after MRI scans and have copied below the relevant sections. Please get in touch if you know of any other local information I could add, know that any of the information below has changed or have any other suggestions.

1)      National NHS information

NHS Choices

“Before having an MRI scan, you should tell medical staff if:

  • you think you have any metal in your body
  • you’re pregnant or breastfeeding”

NHS Direct Wales

“Before having an MRI scan, you should tell medical staff if:

  • you think you have any metal in your body
  • you’re pregnant or breastfeeding”

NHS Inform (Scotland)

“Before having an MRI scan, you should tell medical staff if:

  • you think you have any metal in your body
  • you’re pregnant or breastfeeding”

 

2) Policies that advise mothers to stop breastfeeding for a period of time

South Tyneside

“Please inform the radiographer if you have any allergies, have any kidney problems or are breastfeeding. It is recommended that mothers do not breast feed for 24 hours after contrast is injected. You should express sufficient milk prior to the scan to meet your baby’s feeding requirements during this time.”

University Hospital Southampton 

If you are breastfeeding and we give you a contrast dye injection, we advise that you do not breastfeed for 24 hours afterwards. You should express and discard breast milk during this time. If you know or think you might be pregnant, or are currently breastfeeding, you should telephone us for advice as soon as you receive your appointment letter.

Southern Health

Prohance:

 Breastfeeding – advise suspending breast-feeding for 48 hours after discussion

Greater Glasgow and Clyde

If you are breastfeeding please contact the department as you may need an injection of contrast agent (dye) which means you will be unable to breastfeed for a period of time after your MRI, usually 24 hours.

Worcestershire Acute Hospitals

“Although it has not been established that adverse events occur to nursing infants, caution should be exercised when intravascular contrast media used in MRI are administered to women who are breast feeding and consideration should be given to discontinuing nursing for 24hrs following administration of gadolinium contrast media.”

Chelsea and Westminster Hospital

“Breastfeeding mothers should be aware that the contrast agent can cause breast milk to taste slightly bitter, and so they are advised not to breastfeed for 24 hours after their injection.”

Also: “Not everyone is suitable for an MRI scan and it is important that you let us know if you: are breastfeeding.”

 

3) Policies that ask mothers to inform staff if they’re breastfeeding

Surrey and Sussex Health care NHS Trust

If you answer YES to any of the following questions, you MUST contact the MRI UNIT on 01737 231610 and leave a
message, including your full name and contact details.
Failure to disclose information could result in serious injury.

Are you breastfeeding? YES NO

Hull and East Yorkshire Hospitals Trust

“If you are currently breast-feeding please inform the radiographer before a “contrast agent” is injected so they can discuss precautions you should take.”

Royal Marsden

MRI: “Please inform the radiographer if you have any allergies or you are breast-feeding.

Royal United Hospitals

“Breast Feeding Status

Breast Feeding ❏        Not Breast Feeding ❏”

Southampton General Hospital

Cardiac MRI Scan: “Please contact us if: …

  • You are pregnant or breastfeeding.”

Royal Berkshire NHS Foundation Trust

“Who should not have MRI? MRI in most people is very safe; however, please inform a member of staff if you: …  Are pregnant or breastfeeding.”

Whittington

“Tell the radiographer doing the test if you: …

  • Are pregnant or may be pregnant or are breastfeeding”

University Hospitals Plymouth

“If you are breast-feeding and are having a scan that uses dye we would ask you to contact us BEFORE your appointment.”

 

4) Policies that suggest it’s better not to scan breastfeeding women

Papworth Hospital

“We prefer not to scan patients who are pregnant or breast feeding unless the scan is urgent, but this will be discussed with you beforehand.”

Clatterbridge Cancer Centre

“Ladies, before carrying out the scan, it is very important that we know if you are breastfeeding or are (or think you may be) pregnant. If this is the case, please contact us in advance as it may be necessary to delay your appointment.”

Nottingham University Hospitals

What are the reasons I may not be able to have an MRI scan?

Because an MRI scan involves the use of very strong magnets you may not be able to have this type of scan if you: …

  • are breast feeding

… You must let the doctors or radiology staff know if any of these apply to you. Please ring the MRI department on: 0115 875 4583. If you don’t your scan may not be done.

 

5) Policies that explain that there is no evidence of risk, but still suggest that you could express and discard the milk if you wish

Leeds Teaching Hospitals

“Can I breastfeed after the injection? Current guidelines state that it is safe to breastfeed following the injection of contrast dye as so little dye is passed to the baby via the breastmilk. Alternatively, if you prefer, you can express and discard the breast milk for 24hrs following the scan.”

UCLH

Although it is not necessarily recommended to express and discard breastmilk after having contrast, you may do so if you wish.

James Paget University Hospitals

“If you are breastfeeding, a very small quantity of the contrast passes into a mother’s milk. Although this is not considered to be a problem, some mothers prefer to stop breastfeeding for a period of 24 hours after having MRI contrast.”

 

6) Policies that recommend seeking advice from a clinician

Royal Berkshire NHS Foundation Trust

“Depending on the type of scan, you may need to temporarily stop breastfeeding afterwards. Our staff can support you to express during this time CTPA and MRI scans take place in Radiology (main Xray) and may involve an injection of “contrast” liquid. V/Q or Q scans are done in Medical Physics and involve breathing in a gas, and an injection. You can express milk before the scan for use that day. CTPA ✓ Continue as normal. V/Q scan ✗ Stop, “pump and dump” for 12 hours after. MRI Scan ? Continue, seek advice from clinician if concerned.”

Queen Victoria Hospital

Breast feeding mothers that require the dye may suspend breastfeeding for 24 hours at their discretion and after discussion with their clinician.

UCLH

MRI: “If your scan requires contrast we can provide you with up to date guidance on your breastfeeding. ”

 

7) Policy that says it’s fine to continue breastfeeding

University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire

“If you are breast-feeding, it is safe to continue normal breast-feeding after the gadolinium contrast medium has been given. There is no requirement to express and dispose of breast milk or to withhold breast-feeding. Although the gadolinium is eliminated from the body through the kidneys, if you are breast-feeding, it has been shown that a tiny part (less than 1 part in 1000) of the injected gadolinium can enter the breast milk. An even smaller amount of gadolinium from the breast milk might be swallowed by the baby and taken into the baby’s bloodstream. The amount received by your baby is so small it is not thought to represent any danger to your child.”

 

 

 

This list was originally compiled by Hannah Lynes, based on a Google search (search terms MRI NHS breastfeeding) on 12 September 2016 and was last updated on 22nd May 2021.

 

Photo credit: Liz West

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