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Overall value:
88 pts
LactMed app is primarily designed for medical providers, but it can also help breastfeeding mothers figure out which medications are safe, risky or dangerous from the huge database of drugs and dietary supplements that may affect breastfeeding.

Scores

Cost-in-use
Free
100 pts
App Interface Usability
Simple design with easy-to-use interface
79 pts
Multimedia Usage
The app doesn't include multimedia, although it could benefit from adding images
76 pts
Real World Usability
Very useful resource for discussing risks and benefits of using medications and supplements during breastfeeding
97 pts

Most breastfeeding moms, sooner or later, face important question about necessity of staying medication-free when they're breastfeeding. A lot of medication packages contain warnings that advise caution when breastfeeding, stating that breastfeeding moms should consult their doctor or not take them at all. Common sense tells that if you can avoid taking a medication, it is best to do so.

But what should you do if you have cold, flu, hay fever, or headache? Should you remain drug-free and keep feeling lousy? If you decide to stop the agony, would Naproxen or antihistamine affect your milk and your baby? Also, there's lot of moms who require vital medications and who may worry that they may harm their breastfeeding baby.

It is always the best to ask your doctor if you have any concerns regarding medication use and breastfeeding. But the problem is that even doctors can't be sure about what medications are safe to take while breastfeeding, so many of them would advise you not to take the drug if you're not sure it's absolutely safe.

The reason for this is that physicians receive little or no education about breastfeeding and the effects of maternal medications on the nursing infant. Concerned about potential harm to the nursing infant they rather choose to advise discontinuation of breastfeeding, despite the overwhelming evidence demonstrating its benefits.

If you decided to look for the information on the Internet, you'd find plenty of studies that provide evidence that taking medications while breastfeeding is safe, then after couple of months they would change their mind and claim that taking the drugs while breastfeeding isn't safe. This only makes the whole thing more confusing.

The truth is that some medicines do pass to your baby via your breast milk, but this doesn't necessarily mean they will do your baby any harm. So, it's usually up to moms to weigh up the benefits of taking the medication for their own health versus the possible risk to their baby. 

Of course, they should always discuss all their concerns with their doctor, and always do as advised by medical professional. Both moms and doctors could benefit from having a comprehensive reference during their discussion that could help making these important decisions.

LactMed App for Android and iPhone is one of those resources that could make their life a bit easier. While being primarily designed for medical providers, it can also help breastfeeding mothers figure out which medications are safe, risky or dangerous from the huge database of drugs and dietary supplements that may affect breastfeeding, through the discussion with their clinicians.

LactMed app is a part of the National Library of Medicine's (NLM) Toxicology Data Network (TOXNET), and it includes detailed information on the levels of risky substances in breast milk and infant blood, and possible adverse effects in the nursing infant.

Upon opening the LactMed app, you'd notice that it's simple and straightforward, allowing users to search the medications by drug name or drug class.

Drug Name section lists all available medications in alphabetical order, including both trade and generic names. The list is a little long to browse, so you can use letters and numbers alongside the list, or search feature which utilizes auto-complete and works perfectly.

Drug Class section lists medications grouped by main classes, also alphabetically. The list is not that long, but you can also use search. The bad thing is that it doesn't look for synonyms or abbreviations.

Once you open a drug record, you'll see it's organized in several sections, such as Summary of Use that provides great overview, Drug Levels explaining levels of drug in maternal milk depending on the dosage, Effects in Infants providing possible reported side effects in infants, and Effects on Lactation, that report on possible side effects that chosen drug might have on breastfeeding rates.

There are also Alternate Drugs section that links users to medications that may be safer for breastfeeding mothers to use, Drug Class with all classes that particular drug belongs to, References section links to PubMed resources used for the content including PMID numbers, and finally Full Record section that basically lists all the information from other sections on one screen, also providing the last revision date at the very bottom.

However, some medications lack relevant published information on their use during breastfeeding, so LactMed app recommends that breastfeeding mothers should avoid use of those particular drugs.

The LactMed app's database contains records for thousands of prescription and over-the-counter drugs, as well as supplements and herbals, which are available in the Complementary Therapies drug class. This is probably thing about this app. Also, all the information is provided in a concise manner and is well-referenced.

A lot of apps providing databases of some sort require Internet connection to download or access the data, but that's not the case with LactMed app. You can access all the information even when your device is offline.

The one important thing that is missing from this app is color code system or warning signs that would indicate the risk levels from safe to dangerous. It would be much better if users could see those colors or signs in the list beside the drug name. The app would also benefit from including images or illustrations of medications and supplements. These two things are perhaps the only objection I have about this app.

Overall, LactMed app provides high quality information that is primarily aimed toward medical professional, but it can also be useful for breastfeeding mothers for use in consultation with their clinicians.

Benefit: The app is designed for medical professionals to help them discuss benefits and risks of taking medications with breastfeeding mothers.

Verdict:

For
  • Huge database containing records for thousands of medication, supplements and herbals
  • Concise but detailed and well-referenced information
  • Search feature is accurate and fast
Against
  • Lack of color coded risk indicators
  • Lack of drug images or illustrations

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