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Maternal, fetal, and neonatal pharmacokinetics 

Maternal, fetal, and neonatal pharmacokinetics
Maternal, fetal, and neonatal pharmacokinetics

Karel Allegaert

and Kristel Van Calsteren

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date: 01 December 2020

Most drugs are not thoroughly evaluated for use during pregnancy, delivery, or postpartum (e.g. breastfeeding). The same holds true for early infancy, and results in extensive off-label, unlicensed pharmacotherapy in these specific subpopulations. At present, most drug labels do not contain any instructions for use during pregnancy, in infancy, or during breastfeeding, yet these are the main concerns of healthcare providers considering medical treatment. Anaesthetists commonly treat pregnant women with similar dosing regimens recommended for use in adults and subsequently titrate to effect. The (dis)continuation of breastfeeding in the postpartum period following anaesthesia is commonly based on opinions instead of scientific evidence. This chapter describes the alterations in pharmacokinetics (absorption, distribution, metabolism, elimination) in pregnant women with specific emphasis on placental drug transport, and in neonates, with additional emphasis on breastfeeding. Drugs commonly administered by anaesthetists to women in the peripartum period are discussed with particular reference to the changed pharmacodynamics in both mother and infant.

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