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Breastfeeding With COVID-19: Is it OK?

Speciality Classification
Nurses and Midwives
Location
Online
Delivery
Online
Duration
4 minutes
Provider
Ausmed

As COVID-19 continues to change the landscape of healthcare, new mothers may be left wondering if it is safe to breastfeed. Can COVID-19 be transmitted via breast milk? What safety precautions should a mother take to protect her baby? What would happen if a newly delivered mother tested positive?

These are all important questions, and even though official advice may change as more is learnt about the virus, at present the answers seem reassuringly simple.

Assessing the Risk of Transmission

To date, the virus hasn’t been detected in amniotic fluid, cord blood or placental tissue. According to Martin (2020), there is no evidence of ‘vertical transmission’ from mother to fetus - but what evidence is there regarding the possibility of transmission through breast milk?

Even though there have been several reports of COVID-19 in newborn babies, it’s believed that transmission occurs in the same way as for everyone else, through respiratory droplets passed on by close contact (Martin 2020). At present, there is no evidence of vertical transmission, but this is only based on two small clinical studies (Baud et al. 2020).

Another small study based on just six Chinese cases of COVID-19 positive mothers found that their breast milk tested negative for COVID-19. However, given the small sample size, this evidence should be viewed with caution (RCOG 2020). Johnson (2020), who has also evaluated the limited studies on pregnant women with COVID-19 and other coronavirus infections such as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV), reports that so far at least, the virus has not been detected in breast milk.

This is good news for women who wish to breastfeed, and could potentially be even better if research is able to demonstrate that breast milk also has antiviral properties that could protect infants from COVID-19.

Clearly, this is one area where further research is urgently needed and scientists at the University of California San Diego School of Medicine are amongst the first to seek answers to these two critically important questions:

  • Is COVID-19 transmitted via human milk?
  • Can breast milk protect infants from COVID-19?
  • Delivery
    Title
    Breastfeeding With COVID-19: Is it OK?
    Speciality Classification
    Interest Areas / Topics Covered
    Neonatal, Women's health
    Location
    Provider Type
    Education Provider
    Duration
    4 minutes
    CPD Points
    4 minutes of CPD
    Price
    Free
    Price Details
    Subscription Needed
    Location
    Online
    Price:
    Free
    Subscription Needed
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