Jun 15, 2020

There’s no need to worry about potentially transmitting the coronavirus to newborns through breastfeeding yet, as stated by the World Health Organization (WHO) at a media briefing.

An investigation by the organization regarding the risks of COVID-19 transmissions during breastfeeding had raised no concerns so far.

“We know that children are at relatively low-risk of COVID-19, but are at high risk of numerous other diseases and conditions that breastfeeding prevents. Based on the available evidence, WHO’s advice is that the benefits of breastfeeding outweigh any potential risks of transmission of COVID-19,” said WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

“Mothers with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 should be encouraged to initiate and continue breastfeeding and not be separated from their infants, unless the mother is too unwell,” he added. The director-general also noted that WHO has detailed information on how to breastfeed safely.

According to WHO’s Department of Reproductive Health and Research senior advisor Anshu Banerjee, no active virus has been found in breast milk so far, which is why the risk of transmission from mother to child has not been established yet.

For mothers with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 infection, WHO advises following safety protocols like frequently washing hands with soap and water or using alcohol-based hand rub, especially before touching their babies, as well as wearing medical masks when getting in contact with the baby, including while breastfeeding.

Earlier on May 27, UNICEF’s Chief of Nutrition Dr. Victor Aguayo also said, “As the COVID-19 pandemic progresses, health workers are being diverted to the response and health systems are overstretched. At such time, breastfeeding can protect the lives of millions of children, but new mothers cannot do it without the support of health providers.” 

“We must, more than ever, step up efforts to ensure that every mother and family receive the guidance and support they need from a trained health care worker to breastfeed their children, right from birth, everywhere,” he added.

During the WHO media briefing, Ghebreyesus also expressed concern about the vulnerability that pregnant women are facing due to COVID-19. He noted that due to the pandemic, “women may have a heightened risk of dying from complications of pregnancy and childbirth.”


Header photo by Jonathan Borba from Pexels

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TAGS: breastfeeding breastfeeding safety covid-19 coronavirus covid-19 motherhood WHO world health organization