Mineral oil, paraffin or petroleum jelly is a saturated hydrocarbon derived from petroleum. The length of molecular chain may range from 15 to 40 carbons with a molecular weight between 200 and 600 daltons.
It is used as a laxative, also in cosmetics, as emollient and as excipient in topical products for the skin.
LAXATIVE: Mineral oils with more than 34 carbons (480 daltons) are not absorbed, or, only have minimal absorption through the intestine being this a reason for which those are that should be used on humans (Hagemann 1998). Infant daily intake should be nil or less than 4 mg / kg. For oils with less than 25 carbons daily intake should not exceed 0.2 mg / kg.
When used as a laxative it has been suggested, (Mahadevan 2006), although weakly evidence based, that it may interfere with the absorption of liposoluble vitamins (Gattuso 1994).
Infants whose mothers received this treatment did not suffer any change on their usual bowel movements (Baldwin 1963).
COSMETICS as lotions and creams (body, hands or breast) and lipsticks are a source to accumulation of saturated hydrocarbons in body fat tissue (Concin 2011). Paraffin-containing breast creams significantly increase paraffin concentration in breastmilk (Noti 2003, Concin 2008) which is a reason to be avoided as they may increase the infant's daily intake to 40 mg / kg (Noti 2003).
During breastfeeding it should be wise to avoid the use of paraffin-containing creams and/or having them restricted to a minimum, not to apply them on the breast or only at least as possible when they are part of the excipient of an important topical treatment provided residual traces are been thoroughly removed before the next feeding at the breast. The use of mineral oil as a laxative should be replaced by other less risky product.
Local injection of paraffin for allegedly aesthetic purposes (breast augmentation or others) is a common practice in Eastern and Southeastern Asia, has often serious complications (Alagaratnam 1996, Zekri 1996, Ho 2001, Markopoulos 2006) which is a practice pending of eradication (Di Benedetto 2002). Although published data on it is lacking, it is presumed that paraffin concentrations in breastmilk would be greatly increased in these cases.
- Lactulose (Very Low Risk)
- Polyethylene Glycol (PEG) (Very Low Risk)
- Magnesium Hydroxide (Very Low Risk)
- Bisacodyl (Very Low Risk)
Very Low Risk
Compatible. Not risky for breastfeeding or infant.
Moderately safe. Mild risk possible. Follow up recommended. Read the Comment.
Poorly safe. Evaluate carefully. Use a safer alternative. Read the Comment.
Very High Risk
Not recommended. Cessation of breastfeeding or alternative.
- Liquid Petrolatum
- Mineral Oil
- Oleum Vaselini
- Παραφίνη (Greek)
- Парафин (Cyrillic)
- パラフィン (Japanese)
- CnH2n+2 (Molecular formula)
Drug trade names
- AEMPS. Parafina (Hodernal). Ficha técnica. 2013 Full text (in our servers)
- Concin N, Hofstetter G, Plattner B, Tomovski C, Fiselier K, Gerritzen K, Semsroth S, Zeimet AG, Marth C, Siegl H, Rieger K, Ulmer H, Concin H, Grob K. Evidence for cosmetics as a source of mineral oil contamination in women. J Womens Health (Larchmt). 2011Abstract
- Irish. Liquid Paraffin Drug Summary. 2009 Full text (in our servers)
- Concin N, Hofstetter G, Plattner B, Tomovski C, Fiselier K, Gerritzen K, Fessler S, Windbichler G, Zeimet A, Ulmer H, Siegl H, Rieger K, Concin H, Grob K. Mineral oil paraffins in human body fat and milk. Food Chem Toxicol. 2008Abstract
- Mahadevan U, Kane S. American gastroenterological association institute technical review on the use of gastrointestinal medications in pregnancy. Gastroenterology. 2006Abstract Full text (link to original source) Full text (in our servers)
- Markopoulos C, Mantas D, Kouskos E, Antonopoulou Z, Revenas C, Yiacoumettis A. Paraffinomas of the breast or oleogranulomatous mastitis-a rare entity. Breast. 2006Abstract
- Noti A, Grob K, Biedermann M, Deiss U, Brüschweiler BJ. Exposure of babies to C15-C45 mineral paraffins from human milk and breast salves. Regul Toxicol Pharmacol. 2003Abstract
- Di Benedetto G, Pierangeli M, Scalise A, Bertani A. Paraffin oil injection in the body: an obsolete and destructive procedure. Ann Plast Surg. 2002Abstract
- Ho WS, Chan AC, Law BK. Management of paraffinoma of the breast: 10 years' experience. Br J Plast Surg. 2001Abstract
- Hagemann TM. Gastrointestinal medications and breastfeeding. J Hum Lact. 1998Abstract
- Zekri A, Ho WS, King WW. [Destructive paraffinoma of the breast and thoracic wall caused by paraffin injection for mammary increase. Apropos of 3 cases with review of the literature]. Ann Chir Plast Esthet. 1996Abstract
- Alagaratnam TT, Ng WF. Paraffinomas of the breast: an oriental curiosity. Aust N Z J Surg. 1996Abstract
- Gattuso JM, Kamm MA. Adverse effects of drugs used in the management of constipation and diarrhoea. Drug Saf. 1994Abstract
- BALDWIN WF. Clinical Study of Senna Administration to Nursing Mothers: Assessment of Effects on Infant Bowel Habits. Can Med Assoc J. 1963Abstract Full text (link to original source) Full text (in our servers)