COVID-19 does not transmit through breastmilk: Dr. Agrawal


COVID-19 does not transmit through breastmilk: Dr. Agrawal

COVID-19 ,Dr. Agrawal

According to World Health Organisation (WHO), COVID-19 does not transmit through breastmilk, said, Dr. Sunil Kumar Agrawal, Consultant, Neonatology, Fortis Hospital, Mohali, in an advisory to commemorate the culmination of World Breastfeeding Week here today.

World breastfeeding week (WBW) is celebrated every year from 1st to 7th August all over the globe to encourage breastfeeding and improve the health of babies around the world. The theme for this year is “Support breastfeeding for a healthier planet”.

Dr. Agrawal said, “Practicing skin to skin contact with her child after birth is recommended and WHO and UNICEF recommends breastfeeding within the first hour of the birth by COVID-19 suspected or positive mothers. However, COVID-19 suspected or confirmed mothers should practice the following to prevent transmission of infection to the infant, specifically while breastfeeding”, he said, adding, such mothers such wash hands before touching the baby, wear a mask and disinfect/clean frequently touched surfaces.

The doctor said, breastfeeding provides every child with the best possible start in life and is the cornerstone of infant and young child survival, nutrition and development and maternal health.

That’s why World Health Organization (WHO) 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. 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.

Dr. Agrawal said, “In case the mother is sick and/or unable to breastfeed directly, a healthy care giver can feed expressed breastmilk to the baby with a clean cup and/or spoon. In the situation of the mother being unable to breastfeed or express breastmilk (on ventilator/ICU), one should explore following options with due safety and hygiene: donor human milk, relactation (restarting breastfeeding after a gap), wet nursing (another woman breastfeeding or caring for your child), or appropriate breastmilk substitute.”

COVID-19 does not transmit through breastmilk: Dr. Agrawal

He added, early initiation of breastfeeding after birth boosts the child immunity with direct transfer of antibodies and essential nutrients and added, keeping mothers and babies together helps in better temperature control in the baby, less stress for the mother and successful breastfeeding.

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