Mothers infected with COVID-19 should continue breastfeeding their babies: WHO

Mothers infected with COVID-19 should continue breastfeeding their babies: WHO

Breastfeeding mothers do not seem to be passing on the coronavirus to their infants, a World Health Organization (WHO) expert said on Friday (Jun 12).

Baby Infant 01 - file photo
File photo of an infant (Photo: Jeremy Long)

ZURICH: New mothers infected with COVID-19 should generally continue breastfeeding and should not be separated from their babies, the World Health Organization said Friday (Jun 12), stressing that the benefits outweighed the risks.

WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that it had carefully investigated the risks of women transmitting COVID-19 to their babies during breastfeeding.

"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," Tedros told a news conference.

"Based on the available evidence, WHO’s advice is that the benefits of breastfeeding outweigh any potential risks of transmission of COVID-19.

"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," Tedros said.

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Anshu Banerjee, a senior advisor in WHO's Department of Reproductive Health and Research, said that only "fragments" of the virus had been detected in breast milk, not live virus.

"So far we have not been able to detect live virus in breast milk," he said. "So the risk of transmission from mother to child so far has not been established."

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Source: Reuters/AFP/aj