Answer to Question #11465 Submitted to "Ask the Experts"
The following question was answered by an expert in the appropriate field:
I am a registered nurse who cares for patients after they return from nuclear stress tests with Cardiolite®, which contains technetium-99m (99mTc). I recently had a baby, and when I was pregnant, I wore lead aprons while I cared for these patients.
Now I am breast-feeding, and I am concerned that radioactive material could get into my breast milk. Is there any way that this could happen? Could I get an internal radiation dose? I sometimes handle the urine of these patients, and I know that the Cardiolite® is excreted in urine. Could I inhale the 99mTc from the urine to get an internal dose? Does being around these patients contaminate my breast milk?
As long as you follow universal precautions and wear gloves when handling the patients' urine, there is no pathway for the radioactive material to enter your body. There is no airborne release of the material from the urine. The 99mTc cannot get into your breast milk or contaminate it.
Being around these patients cannot cause your breast milk to become radioactively contaminated either. While the radioactive material in the patients and their urine can externally expose you to a low level of radiation, that will not have an impact on your breast milk.
Linda Kroger, MS