WHO releases Scientific Brief on ‘Breastfeeding and COVID-19’

The World Health Organization (WHO) has released a new Scientific Brief on breastfeeding and COVID-19 recently.

Background Information:

Breastfeeding is the cornerstone of infant and young child survival, nutrition and development and maternal health. The World Health Organization recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months of life, followed by continued
breastfeeding with appropriate complementary foods for up to 2 years and beyond.

Early and uninterrupted skin-to-skin contact, rooming-in and kangaroo mother care also significantly improve neonatal survival and reduce morbidity and are recommended by WHO.

However, concerns have been raised about whether mothers with COVID-19 can transmit the SARS-CoV-2 virus to their infant or young child through breastfeeding.

Methodology employed to develop the scientific brief

A living systematic review of evidence that followed the procedures of the Cochrane handbook for systematic reviews of interventions was carried out with the latest search done on 15 May 2020 to identify studies including mothers with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 and their infants or young children.

A total of 12,198 records were retrieved, 6945 were screened after removing duplicates, and 153 records with mother-infant dyads in which the mother had COVID-19 were included in full-text review.

To date, studies of mother-infant dyads with data on feeding practices and COVID-19 infection have come from case reports, case series or a report of a family cluster. Other study designs such as cohort studies or case-control studies were eligible for inclusion, but none were identified.


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