SAIL Databank offers a vital research tool for medicine safety during breastfeeding

Based within Population Data Science at Swansea University Medical School, SAIL Databank is one of only five European population databases recognised in a new study that has the potential to link data across medicine, pregnancy, breastfeeding and infant and maternal health.

This capability enables researchers to understand these complex inter-relationships. The impact of maternal medicines on children, and the inability to compensate for it, is increasingly recognised as a source of avoidable harm.

The study, led by Swansea University’s Professor Sue Jordan, with brilliant support from colleagues, forms part of the ConcePTION programme of work and is funded by the Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI), which receives support from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme and EFPIA.

In February 2022, in was reported how Public Health Wales’ Congenital Anomaly Register, hosted by SAIL Databank, is helping researchers across Europe to bridge the knowledge gap in the safety of medicines prescribed during pregnancy.

The focus of attention has now expanded from congenital anomalies to include less visible, but equally important outcomes, including cognition, neurodevelopmental disorders, educational performance, and childhood ill-health.

This new study, published in the International Breastfeeding Journal, reports that breastfeeding has been overlooked as a source of medicine exposure, as a mitigator of adverse effects and as an outcome.

This study highlights the rich, individual-level data for the population of Wales that is available anonymously within SAIL Databank that could help researchers develop our understanding of outcomes linked to breastfeeding.

Cited examples of SAIL’s data sources of interest to enable meaningful linkage are;

  • In-patient and out-patient records
  • Primary care GP data
  • National Community Child Health Database
  • Congenital Anomaly Registry data
  • Educational attainment data

Commenting on the research, Professor Jordan said, “Families need to know whether prescribed medicines will make breastfeeding more difficult and if breastfeeding will leave infants vulnerable to adverse drug reactions from maternal medicines or confer benefits, as in the wider population. Comprehensive population databases, like SAIL Databank, with high-quality linked data on medicines, childhood outcomes and modifiable risk factors, including breastfeeding, can offer robust analysis to help to answer these complex questions. Analyses of drug-related benefits and harms necessitate information across the life cycle, from miscarriage to fertility of the next generations: breastfeeding should not be a ‘blind spot’.”

As a result of this new study, the authors are hoping to expand the availability of similar data across a network of European population databases, convened by ConcePTION, to further advance society’s understanding of medication safety in motherhood.

Read the paper in full here –