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Lactation Anaphylaxis: A Case Study

by Dixie Whetsell, MS, IBCLC by Lisa Gonzales, BSN, RN, IBCLC
  • Duration: 60 Mins
  • Credits: 1 CERP, 1 L-CERP, 0.1 Midwifery CEU
  • Handout: Yes

This case describes a 32-year-old primiparous woman who experienced an anaphylactic reaction associated with breastfeeding and milk expression on postpartum day four. With each episode her symptoms worsened and she developed hives, edema and difficulty breathing and swallowing. She had to be treated for her anaphylactic reaction in a hospital ER and ICU and she was released on postpartum day five on antihistamines.

Lactation anaphylaxis is a very rare condition that was first reported in the scientific literature in 1991. Since then there have been 11 other reported cases. Lactation anaphylaxis can be life-threatening and symptoms can include a rash, hives, edema resulting in difficulty breathing or swallowing, a dangerous decrease in blood pressure and a loss of consciousness. We will review this case and do a brief review of the previous case reports. We will discuss the possible causes for lactation anaphylaxis, the related risk factors, common treatments and possible breastfeeding outcomes. In most cases with proper treatment and management breastfeeding and milk expression can continue. Enhanced awareness of and knowledge about this rare condition will allow lactation consultants and other members of the health care team to better support breastfeeding parents who experience lactation anaphylaxis.

Learning Objectives:

Objective 1: Define what lactation anaphylaxis is, what the common symptoms are and when it is most likely to occur;

Objective 2: Describe common treatments for this condition and options for long-term medical management of this condition;

Objective 3: Discuss how this condition can impact the breastfeeding relationship and how an IBCLC can best support a breastfeeding parent that experiences this condition.

Categories: Lactation Case Studies,
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