Some women carry multiple copies of a gene that metabolizes codeine into morphine. These women process codeine at much higher rates than the average person, which means that when they take an average dose of codeine, it is rapidly converted to unusually high levels of morphine.
For new mothers prescribed codeine after childbirth, this can be a tragic cocktail for their babies. A recent study in Canada reports the death of a newborn from morphine overdose via breast milk.
The gene involved in codeine metabolism is called CYP2D6. It metabolizes around 25% of all commonly prescribed medications. It’s also involved in the metabolism of some over-the-counter meds, herbal supplements, and even some foods. Knowing your genetic status is useful information if you’re prescribed or considering taking any drugs metabolized by CYP2D6.
Our company will soon be offering drug metabolism testing — and you can be sure I’ll be the first in line for it. Stay tuned!