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

Findings

It is still not clear whether the virus can or cannot be transmitted though breast milk. Risk of transmission based on feeding practices have not been quantified, compared, or modelled against the benefits of breastfeeding and nurturing mother-infant interaction.

At present, data are not sufficient to conclude vertical transmission of COVID-19 through breastfeeding.

In infants,

  • the risk of COVID-19 infection is low
  • the infection is typically mild or asymptomatic

while the consequences of not breastfeeding and separation between mother and child can be significant.

At this point it appears that COVID-19 in infants and children represents a much lower threat to survival and health than other infections that breastfeeding is protective against.

The benefits of breastfeeding and nurturing mother-infant interaction to prevent infection and promote health and development are especially important when health and other community services are themselves disrupted or limited.

Adherence to infection prevention and control measures is essential to prevent contact transmission between COVID-19 suspected or confirmed mothers and their newborns and young infants.

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