Does COVID 19 transmit through breastfeeding

The details of the spreading of COVID 19 is still unknown. However, it has confirmed that the respiratory droplets produced from the infected person while coughing, sneezing, talking responsibly for a person to person transmission of this infection. This mode of transmission is quite similar to influenza or flu and another respiratory pathogenic infection spreading. Very limited research has conducted in women having COVID 19 infection and SARS-CoV (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, another type of coronavirus infection) and research result does not report the finding of the virus in the breast milk. However, this study result does not confirm that the COVID 19 infection cannot transmit through breast milk.

Breastfeeding in corona virus

Will a mother be able to breastfeed her baby if she has suspected or confirmed COVID 19 infection? 

Yet now no evidence confirmed that COVID 19 infection carried in breast milk; in addition, the benefit of breastfeeding against infection outweigh possible risks of coronavirus transmission through breast milk. Therefore, experts suggested COVID 19  infected or suspected mother can breastfeed their infants during the postpartum period.

Intervening guideline on breastfeeding for nursing women with a confirmed or suspected case of COVID-19

The intervening guideline on breastfeeding for nursing women with a confirmed or suspected case of COVID-19 is based upon the currently available information about the COVID-19 and the possible mode of transmission of other similar viral infections.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) does not provide any specific guidelines on breastfeeding in case of similar type of infection such as SARS-CoV or MERS-CoV (Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome). It is well known that breastfeeding can prevent many infectious diseases. According to the CDC recommendation, a mother with flu can continue breastfeeding or feed her neonate with expressed breast milk by taking precautionary measures not to spread the viral infection to her neonate.

Guidance on breastfeeding for mothers with confirmed COVID-19 or under investigation for COVID-19

Breast milk is the best nutritional source for neonates. But in the case of a mother infected or suspected to COVID -19, the outcome is unknown. In such cases, mothers need to consult with a clinician and coordinate with their family members whether she should continue breastfeeding or how they can continue breastfeeding.

Experts suggested that if the mother is a confirmed case of COVID 19 or has symptomatic PUI should take all possible precautions like washing hands periodically with soap and water before touching the infants, wear a mask during breastfeeding to avoid the COVID 19 infection.

If breast milk is expressed by using a manual or electric breast pump, then the mother should properly wash her hands with soap water before touching the pump or bottles. The caregiver must give proper attention and strictly follow the recommendation for proper cleaning of the pump and bottle after every use. Instead of the mother, some other family member or caregiver who has no infection history should take the responsibility to feed the expressed milk to the neonate.

References:

  1. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/need-extra-precautions/pregnancy-breastfeeding.html?CDC_AA_refVal=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.cdc.gov%2Fcoronavirus%2F2019-ncov%2Fprepare%2Fpregnancy-breastfeeding.html
  2. https://www.rcog.org.uk/en/guidelines-research-services/guidelines/coronavirus-pregnancy/covid-19-virus-infection-and-pregnancy/

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