Women’s experiences with using domperidone as a galactagogue to increase breast milk supply: an australian cross-sectional survey

Grace M. McBride, Robyn Stevenson, Gabbie Zizzo, Alice R. Rumbold, Lisa H. Amir, Amy Keir, Luke E. Grzeskowiak

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Abstract

Background: Domperidone is one of the most commonly utilised pharmacological galactagogues, with evidence of increasing use in clinical practice. However, the use of domperidone as a galactagogue remains controversial, with mixed evidence on safety and efficacy, leading to variable clinical practice recommendations. We sought to evaluate contemporary patterns of domperidone use and examine maternal experiences related to perceived safety and effectiveness. 

Methods: In 2019, we conducted an online, cross-sectional survey of Australian breastfeeding women to examine individual experiences related to domperidone use, in addition to perceptions of safety and effectiveness. 

Results: Among 1876 survey responses, 19% (n = 355) reported using domperidone. Domperidone use was significantly higher in women who were primiparous, gave birth preterm, delivered by caesarean section, had self-perceived low milk supply, and saw a lactation consultant. Nearly 20% of women commenced domperidone use in the first week postpartum (19%, n = 67). The median duration of use was six weeks (interquartile range 3–16 weeks). Maximum reported doses of domperidone used ranged from 20 mg/day to 160 mg/day. Half (n = 178, 50%) of women reported using a dose of 30 mg/day or less, 44% (n = 155) reported using a dose between 31 and 60 mg/day, and 6% (n = 22) reported using a dose greater than 61 mg/day. Nearly half of the respondents reported domperidone as ‘very’ or ‘extremely effective’ (45%, n = 161), with only 8% (n = 27) reporting it was ‘not at all effective’. Almost half (n = 172, 48%) of all women using domperidone reported side effects, including weight gain (25%), headaches (17%) and dry mouth (13%). Higher doses were associated with an increased likelihood of any side effects (≤ 30 mg/day, 38%; >31-≤60 mg/day, 48%, > 61 mg/day 73%; P < 0.004), with 31 (9%) stopping domperidone because of side effects. 

Conclusion: We identified widespread variation in domperidone utilisation patterns, with domperidone broadly perceived to be effective in increasing breast milk supply. Side effects associated with domperidone treatment were common, appeared to be dose-related, and were frequently associated with treatment cessation. These findings highlight the importance of improved clinical practice recommendations and generation of evidence from additional high-quality clinical trials evaluating the efficacy and safety of domperidone. More conclusive clinical trials are needed to determine the efficacy, as well as optimal dose and duration, of domperidone use.

Original languageEnglish
Article number11
Number of pages9
JournalInternational Breastfeeding Journal
Volume18
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 7 Feb 2023

Keywords

  • Breastfeeding
  • Cross-sectional studies
  • Domperidone
  • Galactagogues
  • Human milk
  • Lactation
  • Surveys

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